Birding Howard County, Maryland

SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Most of the following migration records are based on data from the early 1950s through the most recent complete year (last revision through May 2015). Time periods generally do not encompass all extreme dates unless so stated. May Count, Fall Count, and Midwinter Count are countywide and held annually. Species described are those on the Howard County Checklist. Seasons are those used by the Maryland Ornithological Society: Spring (March–May); Summer (June–July); Fall (August–November); Winter (December–February).

Abundance categories are Abundant, Common, Fairly Common, Uncommon, Exremely Uncommon, and Rare. These designations are admittedly imprecise, but were made with the moderately skilled birder in mind. The designation "Rare" is any species for which there are fewer than 20 records in the last 50 years OR which has been seen two or fewer times in the last 10 years.

Abbreviations: BBA – Breeding Bird Atlas. Three atlases have been completed in Howard County:70s atlas (1973–1975), 80s atlas (1983–1987), 2000 atlas or recent atlas (2002–2006). MD/DCRC – Maryland/DC Records Committee. USNM – United States National Museum. WSSC – Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

The sequence follows the phylogenetic order of the most recent Check-list of the American Ornithologists' Union.

Each year the individual species accounts are updated about mid-March after winter records for the preceding year have been compiled.


Species Index

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Pink-footed Goose photo
Rare vagrant. One record. February 20-22, 2012. Found at pond on Jones Mill Road near Hipsley Mill Road. Following day present in fields on north side of Jennings Chapel Road, first near intersection with Colton Court, later near intersection with Old Sawmill Road. On February 22, seen initially at latter site, then it and flock of Canadas moved to a pasture near 16525 A. E. Mullinix Mill Road. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Greater White-fronted Goose photo
Rare. At least six records. November 13 to April 1. Centennial Park, Wilde Lake, Brighton Dam, ponds, and fields. The November 13-28, 2000 bird was accepted by the MD/DCRC as a "Western" White-fronted (pink-billed).
Snow Goose photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. September to late March. Migrating flocks are seldom detected in this county. Wintering birds usually associate with large flocks of geese.
Ross’s Goose photo
Rare. Six records. December 17 and 19, 2007. One white adult in association with four Snow Geese and several hundred Canada Geese at two western Howard County locations. Accepted by MD/DCRC. January 2-5, 2014. Four white adults with flock of Canada Geese in pond and fields on Daisy Road, 1/2 mile south of MD 144. One white adult intermittently at Fulton 3/2 - 3/10 with one sighting on 3/5 at Daisy Road/MD144. One white adult at Centennial Park November 16-24, 2014. One white adult in a flock of 36 Snow
Brant photo
Rare. Three records. Two records from Triadelphia Reservoir: October 27, 1957 (six birds) and November 8, 1959 (three birds); one record from Fulton Pond: Ocrtober 30, 2012 (one bird).
Cackling Goose photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Usually with large Canada Goose flocks. Most records are November through February. Usually single birds, but groups (probably families) of four/five reported a few times. High of six at Centennial Park 1/6/16.
Canada Goose photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; abundant migrant; abundant in winter. Early March to early April; late September and October. Often difficult to distinguish year-round residents from migrants. The most recent BBA shows breeding in all parts of the county. Midwinter Count numbers are routinely in the 7,000 to 9,000 range. This is a pest species in many locations.
Mute Swan photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Currently, there are no resident,"countable," free-flying Mute Swans in the county. For years, one resided at Lake Elkhorn making brief forays to other Columbia lakes. During the summer of 2007 it moved to Wilde Lake, then eventually settled at Centennial Park for several months before returning to Lake Elkhorn. It was found dead there on November 15, 2007. Mute Swans at Fulton Pond, Turf Valley Golf Course, Beaverbrook, and a few other sites were purchased and placed for decoration. One free-flying bird appeared at the Emmaus Road Pond where it was seen May 10, 2008. The landowner indicated it appeared, stayed a few weeks, and left. Four were noted May 31, 2012 at Waverly Pond, MD99. They may have been the same four birds Maryland DNR had been tracking.
Trumpeter Swan photo
Rare. One record. May 19, 2015 Lake Elkhorn (three birds). Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Tundra Swan photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. Late February to late March (peak usually mid-March); early October into December (peak mid to late November). Reservoirs and large lakes; occasionally rests on small farm ponds. High counts of1,000-2,000 on a single day have been recorded.
Wood Duck photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. March and early April; mid-September through October. During the breeding season present on or near secluded ponds, rivers, floodplains, and wetlands; in migration may also appear on reservoirs and large lakes. High of 74 on Triadelphia Reservoir, March 19, 1994. By mid-May, broods are seen along the Patapsco River and at the Race Road wetlands; one or more may be present at the shallow end of Centennial Lake in late July.
Gadwall photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder, uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. March and early April; mostly October to mid-December. Appears a few times each year at one of the central county lakes, Triadelphia Reservoir, or a farm pond. In recent years, Race Road wetlands have been a consistent location. One breeding record from the early 1970s. High of 50 at Triadelphia Reservoir, November 7, 2014.
Eurasian Wigeon photo (1K)
Rare. Three records plus one probable: three from March 3–April 11; one probable on December 21. Records from Triadelphia Reservoir, Centennial Park, and farms.
American Wigeon photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Mostly March and April, occasionally into May; September to December; one summer record. Reservoirs, lakes, and farm ponds. Flocks of 25 to 70 birds are usual. High of 121 on March 18, 1982, at a pond on Union Chapel Road. A pair spent the summer of 2006 at Centennial Lake.
American Black Duck photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; fairly common migrant; fairly common in winter. February to early April; October into December. One or two are frequently seen on local lakes and ponds in association with Mallards; more than a dozen in colder months at quarry on Brighton Dam Rd; large single-species flocks may be present on reservoirs. Highest numbers have been recorded the first half of February. High of 375 on Triadelphia Reservoir, February 1, 1992.
Mallard photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common to abundant year-round. Semi-domesticated species present on all lakes and reservoirs. As small ponds freeze, dozens to hundreds of Mallards congregate at holes in the ice on larger lakes and reservoirs. Wild Mallards do pass through the county and sometimes large flocks of them are detected. These migrants are wary and take flight easily. The coves and north end of Triadelphia Reservoir are favorite stopping places for these wild birds.
Blue-winged Teal photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Mid-March into early May; mid-August to mid-October with a few records as late as December. Generally, six or fewer reports annually. At least one record each year at Centennial Park or at one of the Columbia lakes. High of 120 on September 14, 1995, at Centennial Park.
Northern Shoveler photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Early March to early May (peak mid-March to mid-April); late August to early October with a scattering of records into the winter months. Records from Centennial Park,Triadelphia Reservoir's coves (such as Pigtail), farm ponds, Wilde Lake, Lake Kittamaqundi, Western Regional Park, University of Maryland Central Farm, Race Road wetlands, Font Hill Wetland Park, Meadowbrook Park, Fulton Pond, and Forebay Pond. High of 15 on October 22-26, 2008, at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Northern Pintail photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Mid-February to early April (a few later records); late September through November; one summer record. High of 100 on March 28, 1964, on Triadelphia Reservoir. Sometimes one or two move among the Columbia lakes and Centennial Park for extended periods.
Green-winged Teal photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Early March to mid-April (stragglers into May); late August to mid-November (a few records through December); a few mid-February records; one summer record. Centennial Park, Triadelphia Reservoir, Race Road wetlands, and farm ponds all have numerous records. Highs of 47 on October 27, 2007, on Triadelphia Reservoir and 35 on October 10, 1995, at a pond on Roxbury Road.
Canvasback photo
Common migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Late February to late March (a few into late April or even May); mostly November into December; three summer records. Most consistent at Wilde Lake, Lake Elkhorn, and Centennial Park. High of 100 on March 27, 1988, on a Highland lake. Normally 10 or fewer in a flock.
Redhead photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. Usually six or fewer reports annually. February into mid-March; late November and December; a few January records. Farm ponds, Triadelphia Reservoir, Wilde Lake, Lake Elkhorn, and Centennial Park. Usually one or two birds; flocks of more than 20 are unusual. High of 75 on March 14-21, 1964, on Triadelphia Reservoir.
Ring-necked Duck photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common migrant; uncommon but regular in winter (ice cover affects numbers and locations); rare in summer. Late February through March (peak February 26 to March 18) with laggards occasionally into May; mid-October through mid-December; at least seven summer records. Highs of 380 on March 11, 1994, at Browns Bridge* and 365 on December 30, 2006, at Big Branch. Flocks of 50+ occur almost annually. Reservoirs, lakes, and farm ponds.
Greater Scaup photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mid-March through mid- to late-April, early November into December (fewer fall records); a few January/February records. Usually one or two birds. Mixed flock of 150 Lesser and Greater scaup on April 5, 1996, on Triadelphia Reservoir. Single species flock high of 12 on April 7, 1990, on Triadelphia Reservoir. Usually reservoirs and lakes, occasionally ponds.
Lesser Scaup photo
Fairly common migrant; uncommon to rare in winter; rare in summer. March through early April; late October through November; a few January and February records; one summer record. Usually 10 or fewer birds with a few records of 10 to 50. High was a mixed flock-see Greater Scaup; single species flock of 92 on March 22, 1989, on Triadelphia Reservoir. Reservoirs, lakes, and ponds.
Surf Scoter photo
Rare migrant. Thirteen records: two in spring (March 19 and April 22); nine in fall to December 1; two in winter (January 4 and 5). Triadelphia Reservoir, Centennial Park, and Lake Elkhorn. High of 10 on October 28, 1958, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Mutiple sightings in last decade.
White-winged Scoter photo
Rare migrant. Fourteen records: three in spring (March 31 to April 8); eight in fall (August 26 to November 23 [three on the latter date: 1957, 2007, 2009]); three in winter (December 4 to January 8). One record from Centennial Park and one from Gateway Business Park; all others Triadelphia Reservoir. Highs of five on January 8, 2004, and April 5, 1996, both at Triadelphia Reservoir. Mutiple sightings in last decade.
Black Scoter photo
Rare migrant. Thirteen records: one in spring (April 15); 12 in fall (October 29 [two records: 1996, 1991] to November 27 [two records on November 11: 1997, 2009]). High of 30 on October 29, 1966, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Triadelphia Reservoir, Centennial Park, Wilde Lake, and Lake Elkhorn.
Long-tailed Duck photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mid-March to mid-April (none after April 15 except for one oiled bird); November and December (a few October records); two January and one February record. Mostly one to six birds. Highs: 135 on December 5, 1987, and 71 on November 15, 1992, both at Triadelphia Reservoir. Although most sightings are from Triadelphia Reservoir, species occasionally appears at Centennial Park; also records from Wilde Lake, Lake Elkhorn, and Alpha Ridge Landfill. Birds mostly stay a few hours, less frequently a few days.
Bufflehead photo
Common migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Late February through early April (occasional stragglers into May); late October through early December (a few earlier and later); three summer records. High of 360 on November 12, 2013, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Four records of 100-220 birds, all at Triadelphia Reservoir. Flocks of up to 50 are usual. Reservoirs, lakes, and large ponds.
Common Goldeneye photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Late February through mid-March (latest record April 18); mid-November and December; scattered but consistent January and February records. One to three birds is the norm. High of 42 on December 12, 1997, on the Quarry Pond along Brighton Dam Road/Springdale Drive. Most frequent at Triadelphia Reservoir, Centennial Park, and Lake Elkhorn.
Hooded Merganser photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-February to early April (a few lingering non-breeders may stay later); late October to mid-December; a few winter records. The 2000 BBA confirmed nesting in two county locations: one in the Race Road wetlands, the other on private property in the Cattail Creek watershed. High of 90 on November 2, 1996, on a farm pond. Reservoirs, lakes, and ponds.
Common Merganser photo
Rare breeder (one record); fairly common migrant; common in winter on reservoirs; rare in summer. Mid-February through mid-March (rapidly declining numbers into May); late November (a few earlier) into mid-January; two summer records. High of 2,000+ on January 6, 2013, December 14, 2013,and December 27, 2010, all at Triadelphia Reservoir. Peaks of more than 1,000 recorded in most winters from 2004 to the present. Much lower numbers reported from Rocky Gorge (Duckett) Reservoir. Occasionally a few birds stop at Centennial Park; scattered records elsewhere.
Red-breasted Merganser photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Mostly mid-March to late April (a few May records); mid-November through winter. Often a few winter with the large flock of Common Mergansers at Triadelphia Reservoir. Mostly reservoirs, but more likely to appear on lakes than Common Mergansers. High of 100 on March 28, 1994, at Pigtail.
Ruddy Duck photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Mid-March to mid-April (occasionally into May); October through mid-December (a few August/September records); at least six June and July records. High of 400 on October 28, 1958, on Triadelphia Reservoir; next largest flock was 106 which stayed at Centennial Park from October 30 to November 11, 1997, an unusually long period for such a large group. Usually fewer than 25. Reservoirs, lakes, and large ponds.
Northern Bobwhite photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon year-round (declining population). Dramatic drop in numbers in last 20 years. In the 80s BBA, bobwhites were recorded in all 34 blocks and confirmed in 13. In contrast, the 2000 BBA recorded them in 12 blocks (mostly single observations) and confirmed them as nesting in just one! There is no consistent location in the county where this species can be found, although southern and western parts of the county are the most likely. In 2007, and more recently, an individual released bobwhites south of the Howard County Fairgrounds.
Ring-necked Pheasant photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon year-round (declining population). Numbers have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years. Most of the recent records are west of MD 32 and north of Dayton. No confirmed nesting in most recent BBA. In 2007, and more recently, an individual released pheasants south of the Howard County Fairgrounds. They were being raised in the Dayton area in 2012.
Wild Turkey photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder(disrupted nest with eggshells found February 11, 2013 at Annapolis Rock, PRSP); uncommon year-round (gradually increasing numbers and range) from 2000. A decade or two ago, almost all reports came from upper portions of the Patapsco River, Patuxent River State Park, and WSSC property at the north end of Triadelphia Reservoir. Sightings now come from almost any part of the county with the fewest in the central and eastern areas. Flocks in excess of 20 birds have been reported in late winter/early spring. Highs of 30 at Fox Chase, November 133, 2014; 35 at Circle D Farm on Carrs Mill Rd 11/26/15, and 42 at West Friendship Park 2/14/16.. For a large bird, they are surprisingly difficult to glimpse. During the early 2000's, there were occasional reports of domesticated turkeys near the MPEA parking lot on Trotter Road.
Pied-billed Grebe photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Late February into May; August into December; more than a dozen summer records. High of 13 on November 11, 1991, at Centennial Park. All major lakes and reservoirs as well as farm ponds.
Horned Grebe photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. Late February well into May; late September into December; a few January/early February records. High of 225 on April 5, 1996, next highest 44 on April 3, 2014, both at Triadelphia Reservoir. Mostly reservoirs and lakes, occasionally ponds.
Red-necked Grebe photo
Uncommon to rare migrant. Late February through April; two fall records: October 23 and November 12; one summer report; one winter record. Most records from reservoirs, but also recorded at Lake Elkhorn, Wilde Lake, Lake Kittamaqundi, Centennial Park, and Stone Lake (a quarry lake in a gated community on Gorman Road). Highs of 23 on March 13, 1959, and 18 on March 21, 2014, both Triadelphia Reservoir. Highly episodic; may be years between sightings.
Eared Grebe photo
Rare migrant. Two records: Centennial Park, March 30–April 4, 1994; Lake Elkhorn August 28, 2014.
Western Grebe photo
Rare vagrant. Two records, both from Triadelphia Reservoir: November 23, 1959 to January 1960 and November 12, 2011. (The latter record was accepted by the MD/DCRC as Aechmophorus species. Observers were quite certain it was not a Clark's.)
Rock Pigeon photo (1K) small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common to abundant year-round. As farm buildings in the county have declined, this species has adapted to nesting under bridges and highway overpasses.
Eurasian Collared-Dove photo (1K)
Rare. One record. Mid-May through June 12, 2008, at a farm on St. Michael's Road, south of Old Annapolis Road. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Mourning Dove photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Abundant year-round. Frequents fields, wood edges, suburban areas. Highs of 1,106 on October 27, 1991, and 800+ on August 9,1995, both south of Gorman Road, west of I-95.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April into June; August through mid-October; November 4 and November 13 records. Deciduous woods, wood edges, second-growth.
Black-billed Cuckoo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April into June; August through early October;.late date October 16, 2012. Wood edges; shrubby second-growth. Undoubtedly has nested, but no BBA confirmed breeding. Of five blocks in which they were recorded during the 2000 atlas, one had probable nesting. No reports in 2011 which was the first time the species was missed since 1985. In contrast, sping 2014 produced multiple reports.
Common Nighthawk photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; mid-August to early October. At one time a rare breeder. (The one confirmed nesting in the 70s BBA was in a portion of a block in Prince George's County south of Howard County.) Small numbers in spring at dawn or dusk; more in late summer and early fall. Loose groups of five to 25 birds reported almost annually with 50-70 every few years. Highs of 200+ on September 8, 1993, over East Columbia, 150 on August 10, 1994, at Centennial Park, and 150 on September 1, 1986, at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
Chuck-will's-widow photo
Rare late spring/summer wanderer. Eight records from 1956 to 2003 (specific dates for seven of the eight). May 7 to July 10 (six in May, one in June, one in July). Six of the eight records are from the southern or eastern part of the county.
Eastern Whip-poor-will small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; extremely uncommon migrant (a disappearing species in the county). April to mid-May; August through September. An occasional migrant is heard, but any remaining breeders have became extremely difficult to locate. In the 70s BBA, the species was recorded in 17 of 34 blocks; in the 80s BBA they were located in 12 blocks, while in the most recent atlas they were found in just two blocks. Their last stronghold was Patuxent River State Park where there still may be a few nesting. Dry upland deciduous or mixed deciduous/pine woods with openings and little understory. May Counts in 1959 and 1962 tallied highs of 30 countywide.
Chimney Swift photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common migrant. Late April to mid-May (a few earlier); September to mid-October (only a few stragglers after the middle of the month). Flocking begins in late summer. The following highs have been recorded at roost sites: 2,128 on September 17, 1999, at US 29/US 40, 800 on August 15, 2004, at the same location, 767 on October 18, 2013 at Savage Mill, and 500+ on October 6, 2004, at Oakland Mills High School in East Columbia. During migration, several hundred have been observed on a number of occasions over local lakes. Widely distributed in the county wherever houses with uncapped chimneys provide nest sites. Although chimneys are the usual modern nest location, swifts have nested at least three times (1987, 1991, 1993) in the open (now enclosed) second story of the concession building at the south entrance of Centennial Park.
Mexican Violetear photo
Rare vagrant. One record. October 24-26, 2011, at feeder at home of Diane and Dennis LaPoma, Clarksville. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. Mid-April to mid-May; late August to early October. Latest record a hatch-year female at a feeder in River Hill, Columbia, banded November 7, 2008 (D. Holmes, B. Peterjohn); she was last seen November 8. A November 9, 2009 sighting at Timberleigh was unable to be identified as to species. Attracted to specialized feeders and flowers (well-known affinity for red/orange tubular blossoms), the popularity of hummingbird feeders has increased the number of reports. Frequents open wooded areas not far from water as well as flower gardens.
Rufous Hummingbird photo
Rare vagrant. Two records. Mid-October to December 24, 2005, southeast of Ellicott City. Banded and identified December 3, 2005, as a hatch-year female (D. Holmes, B. Peterjohn). The second bird, at Benson Branch Road, was present from October 23, 2013 to the morning of November 18, 2013. It was identified and banded by Bruce Peterjohn. Another sighting on November 14, 1993, in Savage could not be conclusively identified to species so it was accepted by the MD/DCRC as Selasphorus, Rufous/Allen's/Broad-tailed.
Black Rail photo (1K)
Rare migrant. One record. May 18, 2013. University of Maryland Central Farm; in swale near third pond. Heard only; several recordings obtained.
King Rail photo (1K) small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare wanderer. Mid-April to mid-July; no fall records. Schooley Mill Park and Centennial Park have the most records.
Virginia Rail photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to early June (peak first half of May); September 1 to November 4 (three fall records). Four breeding records (young seen) in 1974, 1992, 2004, and 2009 with two other records possible. Undoubtedly, more common as a migrant than records indicate. Open marshy situations or shallow pond edges with dense emergent vegetation. University of Maryland Central Farm, Centennial Park, Schooley Mill Park, and Plumtree Path.
American Coot photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter; rare in summer. Late February through April (a few into May); late September to mid-December; seven summer records. Highs of 45 on October 23, 1949, and 41 on November 23, 1957, both at Triadelphia Reservoir, and 32 on November 11, 1995, at Centennial Park. Lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Numbers fluctuate widely from year to year.
Limpkin photo
Rare. One record of a bird on lawns and in a pasture on Lakeway Drive in the Benson Branch watershed from May 26 to June 10, 1985. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Sandhill Crane photo
Rare migrant. At least eleven records. Records are as follows: January, two birds from February 26 to March 11, two records in late March, two in April, two in May, and three in November. A November 2 record of two birds with sketchy details is considered Probable. Highs of eight on November 15, 2014, over Burleigh Manor (photo), and five on November 27, 2014, at Pigtail (photo). Fields, reservoirs, lakes, and flyovers.
Black-necked Stilt photo
Rare. One record. September 3, 1991, of a bird flying over a home near Wilde Lake. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
American Avocet photo
Rare migrant. Eight records. One March 15 record (state record early date); all others August 2 to October 7. Four records from Triadelphia Reservoir; single records from Lake Elkhorn, Fulton Pond, and a MD 94 farm pond. Highs of three on August 17, 2010 and August 2, 2013, both at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Sora photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant. Early April to early June; mid-August to late October. One breeding record in 1992 at a Savage pond that no longer exists. Possible breeding at University of Maryland Central Farm in 2002. Certainly more common in migration than records indicate. Lakes, ponds, and marshes with shallow muddy edges and cattails or other emergent vegetation. One bird was observed on a mudflat at Centennial Park from April 5 to May 14, 1989. Meadowbrook Park, Race Road wetlands, and University of Maryland Central Farm are prime sites.
Black-bellied Ploverphoto
Uncommon migrant. Twenty-two records. May (six records); otherwise, late August through late October. Although most records are from mudflats at Triadelphia Reservoir, this species has also been found at pools on turf farms, on mud at a construction site, and along muddy pond edges at several locations. High of five on October 3, 1988, at Triadelphia Reservoir.
American Golden-Ploverphoto
Rare migrant. At least 20 records. Mid-August to November 10 (fall records only). Mostly on extensive short grass or damp mud. High of 14 on October 1, 1989, at a turf farm on MD 32 and 11 on September 18, 1993, at a Jennings Chapel Road turf farm. Most records are from turf farms, a few from Triadelphia Reservoir and Fulton Pond, and one from Western Regional Park. This species and the Black-bellied Plover are often noted after heavy rains. Multiple sightings in last decade.
Common Gallinule small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; rare migrant. Seventeen records. Late April to early June (most in spring); three fall sightings all between September 17-22. Known to have bred in 1981, 1983, and 1992 at a Savage pond that no longer exists. Wetlands, ponds, and lakes with dense emergent vegetation, especially spatterdock or water lilies. Centennial Park, Lake Elkhorn, Warfields Pond Park, Font Hill Wetlands Park, and Woodstock (Patapsco River State Park) all have records. When detected, this elusive species is often recorded for several consecutive days. First record May 1, 1972.
Semipalmated Plover photo
Uncommon migrant. End of April through May; late July to early October. Number of sightings varies widely depending on rainfall and availability of mud. Mudflats, muddy pond and lake edges, turf farms, and shallow puddles in plowed fields. High of 15 on May 21, 2001, at the University of Maryland Central Farm. The north end of Triadelphia Reservoir is a consistent site.
Piping Plover photo
Rare migrant. One record from Wilde Lake on April 29, 1994. Aceepted by MD/DORC.
Killdeer photo
Common breeder; common migrant; uncommon in winter. Late February to early April; mid-July through October. Mudflats and muddy edges of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, extensive short-grass areas and plowed fields; gravel areas (especially for breeding). The two high counts of 150+ on October 18, 1997, and April 1, 1990, were at the University of Maryland Central Farm. Spring and fall sightings of 30 to 50 birds are expected.
Upland Sandpiper photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare migrant. Twenty-one records. April 3 to May 12; July 6 to September 15. Turf farms, pastures, hay and alfalfa fields. Highs of four on April 18, 1993, at the University of Maryland Central Farm and three on August 20, 1966, in a Dayton farm field. Alpha Ridge Landfill and the University of Maryland Central Farm have the most records.
Whimbrel photo
Rare migrant. One record. A flock of 70 was observed May 21, 2003, flying over the University of Maryland Central Farm during a light rain.
Ruddy Turnstone photo
Rare migrant. Two records. Both at Triadelphia Reservoir; September 4-5, 2001, and August 18, 2010.
Red Knot photo
Rare migrant. One record. A juvenile was on mudflats August 27-30, 1988, at Pigtail, Triadelphia Reservoir.
Stilt Sandpiper photo
Rare migrant. Nine records. July 21–October 14. All sightings at Browns Bridge, Triadelphia Reservoir, and Western Regional Park. High of 10 on September 30, 2010, at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Sanderling photo
Rare migrant. Twelve records. One record on May 6; all others August 17-October 20. All records from Triadelphia Reservoir with two exceptions: one at drained Wilde Lake on September 11, 1994, and one at Fulton Pond September 12-19, 2012 (possibly the same bird that had been at Triadelphia Reservoir a few days earlier).
Dunlin photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in summer; rare in winter. Early April to late May; early September to early November (one December 26 record); one highly unusual July 25 sighting at Browns Bridge. Reservoir mudflats provide most records, but several other locations have records including four ponds (each contained sizeable mudflats). High of seven on October 28, 1995, at Triadelphia Reservoir and May 17, 2008, at Fulton Pond.
Baird's Sandpiper photo
Rare migrant. At least seven records. August 17-September 18. Records from Triadelphia Reservoir, University of Maryland Central Farm, Western Regional Park, and Fulton Pond. The September 2012 record at Triadelphia Reservoir may have been the same one seen earlier at the same reservoir.
Least Sandpiper photo
Fairly common migrant. Mid-April through May; mid-July to early November. Reservoir mudflats, muddy edges of lakes and ponds, shallow wet areas in fields. High of 70 on September 17, 2010, and 60 on August 5, 2012, both at Triadelphia Reservoir.
White-rumped Sandpiper photo
Rare migrant. At least fourteen records. May 27 to June 3; August 6 to October 22 (fall records predominate). Mudflats, shallow edges of ponds. Triadelphia Reservoir, Browns Bridge, Western Regional Park, and Fulton Pond. Highs of four on September 8, 2005, at Western Regional Park and three on September 26, 2001, at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper photo
Rare migrant. At least six records. August 31 to September 23 (fall records only). Four records at turf farms, two at Western Regional Park. Extensive short-grass locations.
Pectoral Sandpiper photo
Uncommon migrant. Late March to late May (as early as March 3); mid-July through October (as late as November 8). Recorded annually on mudflats of reservoirs and lakes, at shallow edges of ponds, and in flooded fields. Highs of 15 on August 16, 1992 and August 16, 2012 at Browns Bridge, and September 10, 2010 at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Semipalmated Sandpiper photo
Uncommon migrant. Late April to early June; mid-July to early November. Annually on reservoir mudflats, along muddy lake and pond edges, and in flooded fields. High of 80-100 on August 6, 2002, at Triadelphia Reservoir; 82 at Browns Bridge August 19, 2012.
Western Sandpiper photo
Rare migrant. Fifteen records. July 31-September 18 (fall records only). Records from Browns Bridge, Triadelphia Reservoir, Western Regional Park, Fulton Pond, and Tarbay Drive pond. Mudflats.
Short-billed Dowitcher photo
Rare migrant. Thirteen records. May 11; July 19 to October 24. One May Count record (not included) is an undocumented report of 12 on May 3, 1975. Mudflats of reservoirs, lakes, and ponds; also temporary pools at turf farms.
Long-billed Dowitcher photo
Rare migrant. Three records. In addition, one was published in Maryland Birdlife 60(3-4):55 as an "unidentified Dowitcher" on October 28 near Lisbon, the "best time period for a Long-bill." September 28 (University of Maryland Central Farm), October 24 (Fulton Pond), and October 28 (Triadelphia Reservoir).
Wilson's Snipe photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mid-February to late May; late August to mid-December. Muddy pond edges, wet swales, and wet pastures. High of 142 on March 27, 1999, at the University of Maryland Central Farm; in six other years 60-100 were at the same location during spring migration. Cryptic coloration of the birds and the vegetated muddy areas where they rest and feed enable this species to escape easy detection.
American Woodcock photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder, uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mostly mid-February into April; October into December. Secluded wet woods with leaf litter; damp second-growth. Pre-dawn and post-sunset courtship flights in late winter and early spring in fallow fields or open areas near rivers or streams. Breeding numbers have declined in the county in the last 30 years. The Middle Patuxent Environmental Area is being actively managed to bring back breeding woodcock. Areas in vicinity of Annapolis Rock Road and Hipsley Mill Road are currently likely locations at which to observe courtship flights.
Spotted Sandpiper photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in summer; rare in winter. Mid-April to early June; mid-July through October (two November and one December 8 record); one July 1 record. First nest record on May 3, 2002, (nest with eggs) at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Adult and two chicks were photographed at Tarbay Pond, Jessup, July 25, 2015. Reservoirs; river, pond, and lake edges. Highs of 30 on August 22, 1992, at Duckett Reservoir and 20 on May 1, 1995, at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Solitary Sandpiper photo
Fairly common migrant. Late March to late May; mid-July to late October. River, pond, and lake edges, reservoir mudflats, and damp grassy areas. High of 42 on April 25, 1999, at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Greater Yellowlegs photo
Uncommon migrant. Early March to late May (one June 9 record); late July into late November. Mostly shallow edges of ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, occasionally observed in flooded fields. Highs of 31 on October 25, 2007, at Brighton Dam and 22 on September 9, 1997, at Lake Elkhorn. Pigtail and Big Branch on Triadelphia Reservoir, Browns Bridge, and Western Regional Park all have numerous records.
Lesser Yellowlegs photo
Uncommon migrant. March through May; mid-July to mid-November. Mudflats and muddy edges of ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. Highs of 31 on May 1, 2014 ar Western Regional Park and 25 on August 3, 1957 at Triadelphia Reservoir. Browns Bridge, Columbia lakes, and Western Regional Park all have numerous records.
Wilson's Phalarope photo
Rare migrant. Five records. May 6, 1978, May 8, 2012, August 11, 1991, September 4, 1987, and September 8, 1947. Triadelphia Reservoir, a farm pond near Jennings Chapel Road, and Fulton Pond.
Red Phalarope photo
Rare migrant. Three records. August 23, 2010, October 12, 1982, and October 21, 1989. Western Regional Park, Lake Kittamaqundi and Centennial Park.
Sabine's Gull photo
Rare vagrant. One record. September 8–12, 2012. Triadelphia Reservoir. Numerous photos. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Bonaparte's Gull photo
Uncommon migrant (briefly in spring it may be common over a few lakes or reservoirs); rare in winter. Mid-March to early May; early August to late December; a few January and February records. Highest numbers in spring. High of 250 on April 2, 1989 and April 12, 2015, both at Centennial Park. Historically, Wilde Lake has been the most consistent location for sizeable flocks. All local lakes and reservoirs have records, but numbers can fluctuate dramatically from year to year, e.g., 2006 had two sightings-each was a single bird-while 2007 had a minimum of a dozen reports in the spring season alone. These gulls rarely spend more than a few hours at any location.
Little Gull photo
Rare migrant. Two records. April 6, 2014, at Centennial Park with a flock of ~100 Bonaparte's Gulls and April 12, 2015, at Centennial Park with 250 Bonaparte's Gulls. First flock remained from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Laughing Gull photo
Uncommon wanderer. Early April through May; July to mid-December. Mostly on or over reservoirs, lakes, ponds, and landfills. The first edition of Birding Howard County, Maryland (1995) noted a dramatic and continuing increase in this species. That is no longer true. The last 15 years have seen a sustained drop in sightings and numbers. The closing of the active landfill after 1997 has been a major factor in this change. The all-time one-location high was 3,500 on September 17, 1990, at Alpha Ridge Landfill. By 2002, there were no reports anywhere in the county; in 2006, there was a single sighting of one gull. Since 2000, the maximum number reported has been one flock of 150 in 2004 and 84 in 2009. All other numbers have been 25 or fewer. Of the last 10 years, five had a single record; mostly three or fewer repprts per year.
Ring-billed Gull photo
Common wanderer, few to absent in midsummer. Lakes, reservoirs, shopping center parking lots, fields.
Herring Gull photo
Uncommon wanderer. Mostly September to May. Most frequent at reservoirs; occasionally a few appear at Centennial Park or one of the Columbia lakes.
Thayer's Gull photo
Rare in winter. Four records. December 20 to February 20, all at Alpha Ridge Landfill (when it was still an active landfill). First record 1982; most recent record 1997.
Iceland Gull photo
Rare in winter. Twelve records. One at Triadelphia Reservoir on December 8, one at Centennial Park on March 8, and one east of Dorsey Run Road January 28 to February 8, 2013; most others at Alpha Ridge Landfill December 20 to March 3. First record December 20, 1982.
Lesser Black-backed Gull photo
Uncommon. November 12 to April 23. High of four at Alpha Ridge Landfill on December 20, 1982. Most records were between 1982 (when the species was first recorded) and 1997 (when the landfill closed). Most other records are from Triadelphia Reservoir. From late Januaryto late February 2013 three different birds were photographed at a site east of Dorsey Run Road near an Anne Arundel County waste waste transfer facility. Often in large flocks of Ring-billed Gulls and/or Herring Gulls.
Glaucous Gull photo
Rare. Fifteen records. December 24 to April 1;. Most records are from Alpha Ridge Landfill and Triadelphia Reservoir; Centennial Park, Wilde Lake, and east of Dorsey Run Road all have single sightings. The Wilde Lake bird stayed from May 15 until May 24, 1997, establishing a state late date. First record 1982.
Great Black-backed Gull photo
Uncommon. End of September (one August 29 record) to early May. Usually at reservoirs and lakes. Used to be seen in large numbers in winter at Alpha Ridge Landfill; few since it closed. High of 400 on February 1, 1997, at the landfill. Still an occasional visitor at lakes (especially Wilde Lake) or reservoirs; seldom more than one or two birds. Most recent high was 64 east of Dorsey Run Road, January 30, 2013.
Least Tern
Rare. Three records. July 10, 2006, at the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory Pond. Second record May 11, 2011, at Race Road wetlands; third record May 30, 2015, at Fulton Pond.
Caspian Tern photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in summer. Late March through May; early July to early October; one June 20 record. Recorded annually over lakes, reservoirs, and ponds; also on sandbars. Sometimes birds are present for several consecutive weeks, especially in late summer/fall. High of 117 on April 22, 1995, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Flocks mostly 25 or fewer. First record April 18, 1984.
Black Tern photo (1K)
Rare migrant; rare in summer. More than 20 records. May 1 to May 19; August 2 to September 21; one June 22 record. Recorded in four of last 10 years. High of nine on August 2, 1986, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Records from Triadelphia Reservoir, Wilde Lake, Centennial Park, Lake Elkhorn, Fulton Pond, Rocky Gorge (Duckett) Dam, and Browns Bridge. Views of this species are typically brief; only occasionally will they feed in a location for several hours.
Common Tern photo (1K)
Rare migrant. Seven records. April 21 and May 23; all others fall: August 21, 22, September 5, 10, and October 8. One record in last 10 years. High of nine on May 23, 1958, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Four records from Triadelphia Reservoir, one from Browns Bridge, one from Lake Elkhorn, and one a flyover south of Ellicott City.
Forster's Tern photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in summer. April to mid-May; late July through September (two October 30–31 records); two June records. Recorded almost annually in small numbers over reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. High of seven on September 20, 2001, at Larriland Farm (MD 94). Majority of records from Triadelphia Reservoir (where they often rest on buoy markers visible from Brighton Dam) and Centennial Park.
Red-throated Loonphoto (1K)
Rare migrant. Fourteen records. April to early May; October 20 to mid-December. High of three on October 21, 1989, at Triadelphia Reservoir. Most records are from that location.
Common Loon photo
Fairly common migrant; uncommon to rare in winter; rare in summer. Late March to mid-May (some earlier); October (a few records earlier) to early December; occasional winter and summer records. Highs of 310+ on April 20, 2002, flying over Schooley Mill Park and 186 on April 19, 1991, flying over David Force Park. Single birds often rest on lakes and reservoirs. Most flocks are migrants seen in flight from dawn to mid-morning.
Double-crested Cormorant photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common migrant; uncommon to rare in winter; uncommon in summer. March to mid-May; late August to late November; an increasing number of winter records; summer records not quite annual. Reservoirs and large lakes. High of 101 on April 9, 2004, at Triadelphia Reservoir and 90 on October 20, 2002, in flight south of Ellicott City. Consistent at Brighton Dam, Wilde Lake, and Lake Elkhorn.
Anhinga photo (1K)
Rare vagrant. One modern record; one historical record. Five immatures or females flying over the Columbia Mall on April 22, 2006. Accepted by the MD/DCRC. Historical record: Stewart and Robbins in Birds of Maryland 1958, p. 51 states that a specimen in the old Peale collection was reported to have been shot prior to 1805 at Elkridge Landing [now Elkridge] on the Patapsco River.
American Bittern photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter; rare in summer. Mid-March to mid-May; late September through early November; one late December, one mid-February, and two July records. Most records are of single birds. Multiple sightings at Meadowbrook Park, Race Road Wetlands, Fox Chase, and the University of Maryland Central Farm. .
Least Bittern photo
Rare migrant; rare in summer. Thirteen records. Early May to mid-June (one April 7 record); three fall records September 14-24. Although breeding has not been confirmed, there have been four summer records: one breeding season sighting from 1973 in a marsh on the Patapsco River, a June 2, 1981, record at Lake Elkhorn, and two sightings the first week of June 2003 at the University of Maryland Central Farm. Associated with wetlands where there is tall, dense, emergent vegetation, especially cattails. Has been recorded at Centennial Park, Pigtail, Hugg-Thomas Wildlife Management Area, the University of Maryland Central Farm, and several ponds.
Great Blue Heron photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common much of the year; uncommon in winter. Mid-February through March; September into November. Within the last 10 years, colonies were established or used at Lake Kittamaqundi/Vantage Point (at least 20 active nests in 2016), Waterford Farm, north of Haviland Mill Road at the river, and Carroll Mill Road in the Middle Patuxent River floodplain (latter two are no longer in use). This is a dramatic change from the occasional one or two nests that were the norm through the mid-1990s. Reservoirs, lakes, ponds, rivers, wetlands.
Great Egret photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon but regular wanderer. March into late November with peak in mid to late summer; late date January 14, 2013, at Race Road wetlands. Sightings and numbers have increased in last 10 years. Highs of 18 on March 19, 1997, 17 on July 10,1991, and 17 on August 5, 2010. First two at Centennial Park, third at Western Regional Park. Lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.
Snowy Egret photo
Uncommon wanderer. Early May to mid-October (one mid-April and one mid-November report). Records in four of last 10 years. Highs of four on August 1, 1964, at Triadelphia Reservoir and four on May 8, 1993, at Plumtree Path. Mostly on larger lakes and reservoirs, occasionally on ponds. Lake Elkhorn has the most records in the last decade.
Little Blue Heron photo
Uncommon wanderer. Late March to mid-October (one mid-November record). Mostly three or fewer sightings per year. Recent records mostly from Lake Elkhorn/Forebay Pond, Race Road wetlands, and Meadowbrook Park. High of three at three different locations in three different years. Wetlands; all major reservoirs and lake edges; sometimes ponds and rivers.
Tricolored Heron photo
Rare wanderer. Four records. March 26, 2014, August 25, 1991, and late September/October 1992 at Triadelphia Reservoir; July 22, 1994, at Browns Bridge.
Cattle Egret photo
Uncommon wanderer. Early April to mid-November (one mid-March record). Highs of nine on July 29, 1982, at Triadelphia Reservoir and nine on May 7, 1986, in a pasture (which no longer exists) on Highland Road. Pastures or barnyards with cattle or other animals; shallow ponds, wetlands, and lake edges. Fulton has the most records; others at Lake Elkhorn/Forebay Pond, Gateway, Hanove Road/Race Road, and the University of Maryland Central Farm. First record on May 18, 1961.
Green Heron photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant; rare in winter. April to late October (extremes of February 25 and Novenber 26). Widespread along all major rivers as well as lake and pond edges.
Black-crowned Night-Heron photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon wanderer. Late March to late October; one December 8 record. High of six on June 15, 1981, flying over Oakland Mills. Lake Kittamaqundi, Wilde Lake, and Lake Elkhorn/Forebay Pond are consistent locations in late spring and summer. Shallow portions of lakes and pond edges.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron photo
Uncommon wanderer. Late March to early October. Lake Elkhorn/Forebay Pond in June and July has been the most consistent location. Shallow edges of lakes and reservoirs. First nest record (unsuccessful) in a sycamore on Sharp Antler south of Lake Elkhorn, May 2012. A juvenile bird, barely able to fly, was discovered in dense vegetation in Meadowbrook Park July 29, 2014, to establish the county's first successful nesting.
White Ibis photo
Rare vagrant. Seven records. July 3, 1977, on north side of Patuxent River (now High Ridge Park); August 13, September 6 and 9, 1980, on Jackson Pond, Long Reach, Columbia; July 30, 1984, south of Middle Patuxent River near US 29 and Johns Hopkins Road; August 18- 20, 2007, along the river in the Orange Grove/Glen Artney section of Patapsco Valley State Park; July 13, 2008, at Race Road Wetlands (adult); July 27-29, 2008, at Daniels (juvenile); and August 7, 2014, over Rockburn Branch Park.
Glossy Ibis photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare wanderer. Nineteen records. Mid-April through mid-May (most in spring); four of five fall sightings August 5 to September 18; one unusually late sighting November 25. Flock of 30 flying over MD32/MD108 on April 18, 2010 is high. Wide variety of damp locations from reservoir and pond edges to shallow pools in fields. First record May 8, 1967.
Black Vulture photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common year-round. Formerly mostly in western Howard County; however, 2000 BBA found probable or confirmed breeding widespread, although majority in northern and western sections.
Turkey Vulture photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round countywide. Roosts of 50-100 birds often contain both species. Dead deer provide ample food for both vulture species.
Osprey photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common migrant; rare in winter; uncommon in summer. March into December (as early as February 5 and as late as December 25). A few summer records almost every year. In 1993 a pair nested on a platform (no longer present) on the Montgomery County side of Triadelphia Reservoir at Greenbridge. In 1994, one bird was seen in that location during the breeding season, but there was no evidence of nesting. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, a pair nested on a relay tower on the Prince Geroge's County side of Duckett Dam, just west of I-95. High of 17 on April 16, 1999, south of Ellicott City. Lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. In 2015, an active nest was verified on a grain storage tower on a farm on Michele Drive. In early July the head of an Osprey of unknown age was seen above the edge of the nest. Later owner verified at two young had fledged. First successful nesting in the county in decades.
Swallow-tailed Kite
Rare vagrant. One record April 22, 2014. A single bird was observed drifting slowly north in the late afternoon over Linden Church Road. The only other record dates to August 7, 1879, described in Stewart and Robbins,1958: 107 as collected at Ellicott City. The specimen was deposited in the USNM
Mississippi Kite photo
Rare vagrant. Eleven records. April 11 to September 12. One was a perched bird, all others were flyovers. First record was May 22, 1993, most recent was 8/1/15 at Mt. Pleasant .
Bald Eagle photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Bald Eagles have become a local success story. The Chesapeake Bay population has rebounded so dramatically that nesting pairs have moved into the county. A pair has nested at Triadelphia Reservoir since 1993 (not in 2010) and at Duckett Reservoir since 2003. Two nests on private property in the central and western parts of the county have also been verified-one in 2006 and one in early 2007 (which was never used). A pair nested at the University of Maryland Central Farm in 2013 (nest building in the fall), 2014, 2015, and 2016. There also are several established nests in adjoining counties near the eastern part of Howard County. As a result, Bald Eagle sightings are no longer rare anywhere in the county. Congregations of 10-20 eagles have been reported in recent winters from Brighton Dam with a high of 27 on both January 29, 2012 and January 7, 2016.
Northern Harrier photo (1K) small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. April to mid-May (a few in March); late August into November. Mostly reported from the western part of the county where it hunts low over fields, wet meadows, and extensive open areas; may also be seen as a high flyover during migration.
Sharp-shinned Hawk photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mostly late March into May; September into November (more common in fall). This used to be the expected migrant and wintering accipiter. Because Cooper's Hawks have increased so dramatically in the last decades, either of those accipiters can be anticipated during migration or in winter.
Cooper's Hawk photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Early March to early May; early September into November. Dramatic increase in breeding population in last 20 years. In both the 70s and 80s atlases, the species was confirmed in one block; in the recent atlas it was confirmed in 23 of 34 blocks and was undetected in only two.
Northern Goshawk photo
Extremely uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mid-October to late March. An immature bird wintered in the vicinity of Centennial Park from December 31, 1993, to March 31, 1994. It was seen by numerous observers and is the county's best documented record.
Red-shouldered Hawk photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Early March through mid-April; mid-October to late November. This species continues to do well in the county. It nests in mature, mostly deciduous woods along rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Extensive floodplains and wetlands may be its preference, but nests are found regularly along small streams in residential neighborhoods and at lake edges near human habitations.
Broad-winged Hawk photo (1K) small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon to common migrant (on a few fall days it may be abundant). Mid-April to mid-May; early September to mid-October (more in fall). Peak numbers usually September 15-25. Although this species has never been a common or widespread breeder in the county, in the 70s BBA it was found in a total of 23 of 34 blocks and confirmed in five. The situation has changed dramatically. In the 2000 BBA, it was found in four blocks and confirmed in just one. This crash in breeding pairs is not unique to Howard County, although no cause has been determined. The highest recorded numbers in migration were on September 20, 1993, when 6,363 were counted over Burleigh Manor, 2,500 were noted a few miles south of Ellicott City, and 210 were spotted over Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. There have been three other dates on which 2,000 or more have been tallied. Spring numbers do not approach these figures with a high of 317 on April 13, 2001, south of Ellicott City. Breeds in extensive deciduous woods, recently only along northern sections of the Patapsco River.
Red-tailed Hawk photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant; fairly common in winter. March into April; late October into December. Based on recent BBA results, more widespread in the county during the breeding season than 20 years ago despite declining number of farm fields for hunting. Has adapted to power line and highway rights-of-way. High of 101 over Sanner Road on November 11, 1994. Upland woods and fields; major highways.
Rough-legged Hawk photo (1K)
Uncommon to rare migrant; rare in winter. Mid-February through March; late October into December. Not seen every year. At one time a consistent winter resident at Alpha Ridge Landfill.
Golden Eagle photo (1K)
Rare migrant. Just two records in winter (December 22 and January 31) and two in spring (March 22 and April 17); all others in fall. Centennial Park has spring and fall records. Multiple records in last decade.
Barn Owl photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; rare migrant. Was once an uncommon but regular nester in silos, barns, and abandoned buildings in the county. At best, owls are underrepresented in atlas surveys, but the dwindling number of farms, abandoned buildings, and damp meadows have almost eliminated breeding Barn Owls locally. In the 70s BBA, the species was confirmed as breeding in 10 blocks of the 12 in which they were found; in the 80s BBA, the confirmations had dropped to six of a dozen blocks .By the 2000 BBA, they were found nesting in just one block of the three where they were verified during the breeding season.
Eastern Screech-Owl photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon year-round. Widespread in deciduous woodlots and suburban yards wherever there are adequate cavities and prey. Occasionally, roosts and nests in boxes designed for them. Their call does not carry far nor does it sound like what people perceive as a typical owl, so their presence is frequently overlooked. Patapsco Valley State Park (Daniels and Marriottsville), Rockburn Branch Park, Western Regional Park, Big Branch, Schooley Mill Park, and the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area all have relatively recent records.
Great Horned Owl photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon year-round. Mature deciduous and coniferous woods. 2000 BBA found the species in 32 of 34 blocks. Uses old hawk, crow, or squirrel nests in major crotch of a mature tree. Has nested at David Force Park, Centennial Park, Schooley Mill Park, Alpha Ridge Landfill, Wincopin Trail, and Rockburn Branch Park. Although often described as primarily an upland species, several times it has been found nesting in floodplains adjacent to county rivers or streams.
Snowy Owl photo
Rare in winter. Two records. February or March 1947 in a garden near Reservoir Road and December 1, 1960, along Pindell School Road.
Barred Owl photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon year-round. Mature floodplain forests, stream valleys, coniferous tracts. It is a secondary cavity nester which needs a tree of substantial diameter for nesting. In the two most recent atlases, this species was found in all blocks. Because there are so many rivers within the county, Barred Owls are widespread. Of the three locally breeding owl species, this is probably the most frequently heard.
Long-eared Owl photo (1K)
Rare in winter. Fifteen records. Records from mid-December through mid-April. High of four on February 24, 2002, in pine stands of Patuxent River State Park. Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and Centennial Park also have records. Multiple sightings in last decade.
Short-eared Owl photo
Rare migrant; rare in winter. Eleven records. Mid-October to early April. Centennial Park, Alpha Ridge Landfill, and the University of Maryland Central Farm have records. High of four February 7, 2009, at Alpha Ridge Landfill.
Northern Saw-whet Owl photo
Uncommon to rare migrant; rare in winter except in flight years. Late October to mid-April. Conifers and broad-leaf evergreens, viney tangles, deciduous trees with clusters of dead leaves. Normally quiet on wintering grounds so that most records are the result of searches of likely habitat. As an irruptive species with an approximately four-year cycle, its numbers vary widely from year to year. Like all owls, it is certainly more widely distributed and more frequently present than records indicate.
Belted Kingfisher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; uncommon in winter. Present at lakes, reservoirs, and along rivers. During periods when ice covers most water, there is a noticeable drop in the population.
Red-headed Woodpecker photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mid-April to mid-May; mid-September to mid-November. One bird stayed in the vicinity of a Linden Church Road home from December 2013 to February 2015. Mature oak woods with dead or partially dead trees and little understory. In migration may be found in a wide variety of deciduous woods and edge areas. In the most recent BBA, it was confirmed in the Carroll County section of a Howard County block. Probably a few pairs nest on private property in far west. Western Regional Park, Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, Mt. Pleasant, and Schooley Mill Park all have multiple migration records.
Red-bellied Woodpecker photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. Present in most areas of mature deciduous trees, wood edges, and suburbs.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker photo
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Late March to late May; mid-September through October. Moist deciduous woods, suburban areas, orchards. Neat parallel rows of holes on tree trunks signal the presence of this species.
Downy Woodpecker photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. Widespread in woods, parks, and suburban yards. Regular at feeders.
Hairy Woodpecker photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common year-round. Extensive mature deciduous woods. Infrequent at feeders.
Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common much of the year; common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March through April; mid-September to late October. Deciduous woods and wood edges, suburbs. Spends a substantial amount of time on the ground feeding on ants.
Pileated Woodpecker photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon to fairly common year-round. Population has expanded dramatically in the last 30 years. Initially inhabited extensive floodplains, but has gradually also moved into upland deciduous woods and is occasionally seen in suburban areas. First recorded in county in 1961; first breeding record in 1969.
American Kestrel photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common to uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March to mid-April; mid-September tomid-October. Numbers of this species have dropped in the 15 years. Midwinter Count data show that from 1986 through 1992 only one year tallied fewer than 20 birds, all other totals were 35 or more with a high of 53 in 1989. In contrast, since 2000 each year has been below 20; totals the last five years have been 10 or fewer, 2015 tallied one. Frequently perches on power lines near fields.
Merlin photo
Uncommon migrant; rare to uncommon in winter; rare in summer. March into early May; late August through November. Increasing number of winter records; one summer record. Reservoirs and extensive open areas.
Peregrine Falcon photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter; rare in summer. Mostly late March and April; late August to mid-November. Primarily lakes, reservoirs, and extensive open areas.
Olive-sided Flycatcher photo
Uncommon migrant. Early May into June; late August well into September (late date September 23). Open deciduous woods or wood edges; usually perches high on bare branches of dead or dying mature trees not far from water. May use a favored perch or general location for hours and has been known to stay several days in an area.
Eastern Wood-Pewee photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. May; mid-September to mid-October. Majority arrive after the first week of May and leave by late September. Mature deciduous woods and wood edges. Heard-only records prior to May are seldom accecpted because the call is imitated by other species. Pewees sometimes can still be heard in autumn. Because their plaintive song carries well, it is easy to detect their presence during the breeding season.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. May 9-22; August 14 to October 4 (peak late August to mid-September). Preponderance of records in fall. Mostly deciduous woods or wood edges, not far from water.
Acadian Flycatcher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. May (especially after the first week); mid-August to mid-September. Floodplain deciduous woods; occasionally present on hillsides near streams. Widespread along the county's many waterways.
Alder Flycatcher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Mostly spring records (calling birds). Almost all records May 8 to June 7, more than half of records May 18 - 31, three records from last week of August. Six birds (all calling) from five sites May 21 - 28, 2014, exceeded number previously reported iin a single year. Schooley Mill Park has four records; reports also from Lake Elkhorn, Browns Bridge, Meadowbrook Park, and the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.
Willow Flycatcher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Mostly mid-May into early June; mid-August into early September. In its specialized habitat of open, wet areas with scattered shrubs, this species is doing well, perhaps even better than 30 years ago. Beaver-created wetlands and wetland mitigation sites have been a plus. Meadowbrook Park usually has two or three pairs. They have also been consistent east of Lake Elkhorn under the transmission lines and on the islands at the west end of Centennial Park.
Least Flycatcher photo (1K) small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. May; late August through third week of September. Wood edges near meadows or openings in deciduous woods. High of three on August 23, 1994, at Browns Bridge.
Eastern Phoebe photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; common migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. Mid-March to mid-April; mid-September to late October. Nests in open sheds, carports, porches, barns, and other protected sites; also under bridges.
Great Crested Flycatcher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. A few as early as late April, but most into mid-May; mid-August through September. Breeding birds need mature deciduous trees with cavities; a few nest records from boxes.
Eastern Kingbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. Late April to mid-May; mid-August to mid-September. Sycamores along streams and rivers are favorite nest sites although this species uses any tree with an open structure; occasionally nests in saplings in parking lots. Streamside nesting often associated with Warbling Vireos and Orchard Orioles. High of 33 on August 28, 1971, near Browns Bridge.
Loggerhead Shrike photo
Rare. Five records from 1970s, mostly late March to mid-April. No sightings since 1979. Half a dozen sightings 1954-1961 (September 27 to December) of a bird that returned to one location on Reservoir Road four years in succession.
Northern Shrike photo
One present at Schooley Mill Park from January 5 to February 28, 1991. Accepted by the MD/DCRC.
White-eyed Vireo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant. Mid-April into May; September well into October. Moist, brushy tangles; hedgerows; wood edges. Widespread in county, but suburbs often do not have the necessary untended areas that this bird needs. The explosion of the deer population and changed farming practices have reduced undergrowth and eliminated most hedgerows, thereby removing nesting habitat. BBA field work indicates that county distribution has not changed appreciably in the last 35 years; however, numbers appear to have dropped. Birders in the most recent atlas noted difficulty in finding this vocal species. Highs of 29 on May 14, 1994, and 25 on September 17, 1994, both at Rockburn Branch Park. One extremely late report on November 15, 2009, was heard only, so it can best be considered possible.
Yellow-throated Vireo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to mid-May; September; late date October 11. Present in small numbers in all the major river valleys. Mature deciduous floodplain forest. High of nine May 8, 1999, at Henryton, Patapsco Valley State Park.
Blue-headed Vireo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; rare in summer. Early April to mid-May (one March 23 record); mid-September through October (November 12 and 14, 2010 are late dates); two June records. The 80s BBA recorded this species in two blocks. Mostly deciduous woods, wood edges, and second-growth. Highs of four on May 13, 2000, at Savage Park and October 4, 2009, at West Friendship Park.
Philadelphia Vireo photo
Uncommon fall migrant (rare in spring). Late August through early October. Bottomland deciduous woods, wood edges, second-growth; often not far from water. High of three September 19, 2012 at Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.
Warbling Vireo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; late August to mid-September (a few to early October). Latest was December 15, 2009, photographed at Thornbrook Road, west of Ellicott City. Floodplain forest; mature deciduous trees along streams and near wetlands. Highs of six on April 27, 1996, and April 24, 2006, both at the University of Maryland Central Farm. Currently, Meadowbrook Park is the most easily accessible site in the county in which to find this species. It is also seen annually at Alpha Ridge Park, Meadowbrook Park, and Centennial Park. It frequently nests in sycamores and is found in association with Orchard Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds, often in narrow deciduous strips along streams.
Red-eyed Vireo photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; common migrant. Late April to mid-May; mid-September to mid-October. Deciduous upland and bottomland forest. Highs of 82 on May 14, 1994, and 60 on May 11, 1991, both at Rockburn Branch Park.
Blue Jay photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; abundant migrant; uncommon to fairly common in winter. Late April to mid-May; late September to late October are peak periods. Travels in small to sizeable flocks, often at treetop level. The number wintering varies considerably from year to year. Although omnivorous, usually they are found not far from oaks with their favored acorns. Deciduous and coniferous trees in suburban areas as well as in woods and hedgerows.
American Crow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common to abundant year-round. Once confined primarily to rural areas, now present countywide. Communal roosts in winter may number in the thousands.
Fish Crow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common year-round. Widespread, although heard most often in the vicinity of lakes and reservoirs. Separable from American Crow by voice only.
Common Raven photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder. Uncommon year-round wantered regularly reported. From 1954 through early 2006 there was just one accepted record, which was December 24, 1978, at Triadelphia Reservoir. In 2006, whth a nest in Frederick County and a nest attempt in Baltimore County (a few miles north of Marriottsville), documented sightings soared. At least nine sightings (several of more than one bird) were received between May 2 and November 11, 2006. Most were in the I-70/Patapsco River corridor, but one was at Centennial Park and one was over East Columbia. Nesting not far from the county line in Frederick County in 2007 led to at least eight sightings in Howard County in 2007 as far east as US29/Broken Land Parkwas. By 2009, ravens wee beibng seen near Ricky Gorge (Duckett) Dam. Multiple annual signtings since 2006. High of six May21-23, 2010 at Rocky Gorge Dam. Nesting there was verified March 31, 2011, on the Prince George's County side. At the same time, an unoccupied nest with whitewash below it was observed on the Howard County side. February 21, 2012, an active nest was observed on the Howard County side of the dam with the presumed female on the nest and the male in the vicinity. In 2013, the nest was on the Prince George's County side with four nestlings photographed; 2014 nest also on the Prince George's side. In 2015, they moved to the Howard County side of the dam and fledged three young. Away from the nest site, one or two ravens are frequently observed being chased by crows. Sightings in the north-central and western parts of the county spiked during the winter os 2013-14. By the winter of 2014-15, they were being reported from central and eastern parts of the county as well as the west.
Horned Lark photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Wintering birds present from mid-October to mid-March. Favors areas where there is exposed earth, particularly corn fields or manured fields; also extensive short-grass situations such as turf farms. Moves in flocks in fall and winter. Breeds early. Their high tinkling courtship flight can be heard in some years from late February on. During the 70s BBA, there were records from 28 of the 34 blocks; in the most recent atlas, the species was found in just 13 blocks. Changes in habitat and increasing urbanization now restrict the species mostly to western Howard County. Western Regional Park and vicinity is a reliable location for them much of the year. A high of 350 on February 5, 1994, along Underwood Road near Old Frederick Road.
Purple Martin photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant. Mid-March to early May; mid-August through late September (late date October 13). Uses communal nest boxes or groups of gourds in suburban and rural locations. In migration, seen mostly over water in mixed swallow flocks. Establishes large late summer roosts prior to migration:125 seen on August 17, 1985, perched on ballfield light fixtures at Centennial Park.
Tree Swallow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; common migrant; rare in winter. An increasing breeding species. Early March to early May; midsummer to a peak during October, then dropping dramatically by the first week of November. A new late departure date of November 23 was established in 2006 at Triadelphia Reservoir. A bird observed on February 3, 2007, south of Gorman Road in southern Howard County and a flock of 10 on February 22, 2012, over MD 32 east of US 29 are the only winter dates. Both sightings followed unusually mild winter weather. The first county nest was observed in 1977. In the 70s BBA, possible nesting was recorded in three of 34 blocks. During the 80s BBA, nesting was confirmed in one block and was possible in five others. In the most recent atlas, nesting was confirmed in 31 blocks! Tree Swallows have benefited from the highly successful nest box programs of the Howard County Bird Club and the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, as well as the proliferation of sediment control ponds required in new developments. During migration, dozens to hundreds of Tree Swallows can be expected over any of the local lakes and reservoirs. A flock of 1,000 swallows, mostly Trees April 8, 2015, was seen at Centennial Park.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant. Mid-March well into May; midsummer through mid-September, occasional stragglers well into October. During spring migration, they are easily observed over local lakes and reservoirs, as well as along rivers. Traditionally, the species nests (mostly in single pairs) along the banks of major county river systems. There is evidence, however, that the species is adapting to man-made sites. Several times during the 1990s birds were observed carrying nesting material into drains of the Centennial Lane bridge adjacent to the west end of Centennial Park. During the 2000 BBA, similar activity was observed at other highway sites; in 2005, there were reports that the species made use of openings in abandoned semitrailers; and in 2006, they attempted to nest in a drain above a door frame in the unfinished Glenwood Community Center. High of 70 on April 16, 2011, at Marriottsville Road (PVSP).
Bank Swallow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant. A few in late April but mostly May, especially mid-month; mid-July through August with sightings dropping after early September. In migration, frequently seen in large flocks of swallows over lakes and reservoirs, usually fewer than 10 birds. Bank Swallows are colonial nesters requiring easily excavated sediments that do not erode quickly. The only nesting record in the last few decades was in the steep banks of an abandoned, highly eroded industrial site in the Coastal Plain. Highs of 50 on August 6, 1989, at Triadelphia Reservoir and 50 on May 22, 1990, at Centennial Park.
Cliff Swallow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder (can be locally common in vicinity of nesting colonies); uncommon migrant. Mid-April (sometimes as early as the first week) to mid-May; mid-August to mid-September (late date September 30). Some nesting colonies have been present for many years such as those at Rocky Gorge (Duckett) Dam, Brighton Dam, US 29 bridge across Rocky Gorge Reservoir, and MD 32 bridge over the Patapsco River; others have been of more limited duration. The most recent non-bridge/highway location was a report in 2006 of five/six nests inside an open shed-like structure at a Triadelphia Mill Road farm, not far from Big Branch.
Barn Swallow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common migrant. Late March through April; August well into October (late date October 25). Usually seen in flight over pastures, lakes, ponds, and grassy expanses. They frequently perch on utility lines near barns, sheds, carports, porches, bridges and other nest sites. High of 240 on April 23, 2000, at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Carolina Chickadee photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. Deciduous and mixed woods, wood edges, parks, and yards. Frequents feeders; occasionally uses nest boxes. Note that this is the regularly seen chickadee in this county. Black-capped Chickadees, resident in western Maryland, invade the Piedmont in winter only on rare occasions.
Black-capped Chickadee photo
Rare in winter. Mostly November to late March. Winters of 2010-2011, 2012-13, and 2013-14 have recent records. Majority of sightings are at feeders during invasion years. Easily confused with resident Carolina Chickadees.
Tufted Titmouse photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. Deciduous and mixed woods, wood edges, parks, suburbs. Frequents feeders. In winter, routinely flocks with Carolina Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches. Although a cavity nester, it seldom uses nest boxes.
Red-breasted Nuthatch photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; erratic in winter (almost absent some winters); rare in summer (three July records, two with photos). Late August to early May. Pine or mixed pine/deciduous woods. Visits feeders, especially those near mature conifers. High of 16 on December 28, 1997, at Patuxent River State Park.
White-breasted Nuthatch photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common year-round. This species has shown a decided increase in the last 40 years. It is found countywide and is a regular visitor at feeders. At one time it may have preferred floodplain forests and swamps, but now it may be found in most mature deciduous woods. It is a cavity nester that seldom uses nest boxes.
Brown Creeper photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter (easily overlooked); rare in summer. April and early May; early September through October. Breeding has not been confirmed in this county despite searches during three atlases. The most recent atlas did produce a confirmation in an Anne Arundel portion of a Howard County block in the Patapsco River Valley. A probable nesting was reported adjacent to Triadelphia Reservoir. Mature deciduous woods. In winter often found in association with chickadees, titmice, and kinglets.
House Wren photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common migrant; rare in winter. Mid-April well into May; September to mid-October (with dwindling numbers into November); occasional winter records. Frequents yards and gardens near houses; also wooded areas and low, dense tangles near streams. Frequently uses nest boxes.
Winter Wren photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. April; a few records the latter half of September, but most are in October. Floodplain and hillside deciduous woods; along streams and rivers where individuals investigate tangles, roots, and crevices; also found in boggy woodland areas and in vegetated pond edges. It is easily overlooked with its mouse-like coloration and actions. A tiny bird with a beautiful song, which is sometimes heard in late winter/early spring.
Sedge Wren photo
Rare migrant. Fifteen records. Late April to June; September through October. Records from Rockburn Branch Park, University of Maryland Central Farm, Savage, Patuxent Branch Trail, Western Regional Park, Mount Pleasant, and Cavey Lane.
Marsh Wren photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Late April to late May; mid-September to mid-November. Two winter records: January 11, 1994, at Plumtree Path and January 5, 2008, at Font Hill Wetland Park. An extremely early spring record on March 25, 2007, at Font Hill may have been a wintering bird. Most often found in cattail or tall-grass marshes (which need not be extensive). University of Maryland Central Farm, Meadowbrook Park, Browns Bridge, Mt. Pleasant, Font Hill Wetland Park, Warfields Pond Park, Lake Elkhorn, Schooley Mill Park, Western Regional Park, and Patuxent Branch Trail all have records. First reported in 1973.
Carolina Wren photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. The population drops dramatically after severe winters. Woods and edges with dense undergrowth; parks, and suburban yards with log or brush piles. Seldom uses nest boxes, but frequently constructs nests in protected areas around houses and outbuildings.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; common migrant. April into early May; mid-August to early October (one November 16 record). Floodplains and uplands; open deciduous woods and wood edges. Arrives before trees have leafed out and begins nest building immediately. Pairs are so vocal and active that nests are not difficult to locate. Highs of 30 on April 25, 2014 and 29 on May 2, 1959, both at the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.
Golden-crowned Kinglet photo
Common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March to early May; mid-September to mid-November. Coniferous, deciduous, or mixed woods, both floodplain and upland. A high of 50 in 1988 (no date) was reported from Triadelphia Reservoir.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet photo
Fairly common migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. Late March into May; September (five late-August records) to late November. Deciduous or coniferous woods, wood edges, and shrubby meadows. Highs of 100 on October 21, 1997, at Centennial Park and 65 on October 17, 1990, at Schooley Mill Park.
Eastern Bluebird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common spring through fall; uncommon in winter. Open suburban areas, pastures, short-grass fields, and wood edges. More in central and western parts of the county. In winter, found in protected locations with berry-bearing vines and shrubs near water. Quarter-century-old nest box program has had positive impact; minimum of 1,500 fledge annually.
Veery photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April into late May; September into October. Moist, mature deciduous woods with dense shrub layer, often near water. Nests at Middle Patuxent Environmental Area as well as scattered locations in Patuxent River State Park and Patapsco Valley State Park. Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April into late May; September into October. Moist, mature deciduous woods with dense shrub layer, often near water. High of 20 on May 24, 2008, at Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.
Gray-cheeked Thrush photo
Uncommon migrant. Mostly end of first week of May to end of month; early September to late October. Mature deciduous or mixed woods, floodplain or upland with little understory. Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, Rockburn Branch Park, Henryton, and Pigtail are all good locations. Difficult to detect and to separate from Bicknell's Thrush except by song. It is the more expected of the two species.
Bicknell's Thrush photo (1K)
Rare migrant. Three records: May 13, 2000, May 9, 2003, and May 25, 2005, all at the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. One probable Bicknell's October 1, 2010, at the same location. This species certainly occurs regularly in small numbers. Because it cannot be separated from the Gray-cheeked Thrush on the basis of plumage except under ideal conditions by experienced observers, records will continue to require a written description and audio confirmation by those familiar with the songs of both species.
Swainson's Thrush photo
Fairly common migrant. Late April to early June; September to late October. Widespread during migration in moist woods but, like most migrant thrushes, not easily seen. Much more common than sight reports indicate. High of 40 on September 25, 2012 at Annapolis Rock Road, Patuxent River State Park.
Hermit Thrush photo
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-April to mid-May; late September through November. Deciduous and coniferous woods, both upland and floodplain. High of 20+ on April 28, 2007, east of Kindler Road along the south side of the Middle Patuxent River.
Wood Thrush photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. Late April to mid-May; mid-September to mid-October. Widespread in extensive damp deciduous woods with understory; may also be present and attempt nesting in small suburban woodlots. Highs of 49 on May 11, 1991, and 48 on May 14, 1994, both at Rockburn Branch Park.
American Robin photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Abundant much of the year; uncommon in winter. Suburbs, parks, gardens, wood edges. Flocks of hundreds gather in late summer and fall; again in late winter. High of ~1,000 on October 25, 2004, at Centennial Park; December 20, 2014, Triadelphia Christmas Count, observers from Supplee Park (P.G. County) counted 9730 robins flying across Duckett Reservoir into Howard County.
Varied Thrush photo (1K)
Rare. One record. A bird at a feeder in Savage, December 11-15, 1977. Record with photo published in American Birds. Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Gray Catbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common to abundant migrant; rare in winter. Late April to mid-May; mid-September to late November; more than a dozen records from mid-November through March. Has wintered at Centennial Park and Schooley Mill Park. Present in parks, hedgerows, woodland thickets, and wood edges. Highs of 104 on September 15, 2001, in southeastern Howard County and 76 on May 10, 2014, in western Howard County. Midwinter Count February 7, 2015, tallied four at four different locations.
Brown Thrasher photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Late March through April; mid-September to late November; more than 25 winter records. Thickets, hedgerows, scrubby wood edges. High of 16 on September 15, 2002, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Northern Mockingbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. Loud, exuberant singer; aggressive in protecting fruit and berry supplies. This species can be found in gardens, parks, yards, hedgerows or wherever there is food. High of 49 on May 2, 1959, in southern Howard County.
European Starling photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Abundant year-round. Easily seen in all parts of county, often in large flocks. Starlings are an introduced cavity nester that utilizes boxes with large entrances, usurps woodpecker cavities, and uses openings in man-made structures. It is not a protected species.
Cedar Waxwing photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-April into June; October through December. Widespread in upland and bottomland deciduous woods, but distribution is spotty depending on available fruit. Travels in flocks much of the year and can often be found near shallow water. Seven records of flocks of 200 or more; flocks of 50 to 100 are not uncommon. This species has shown a marked increase in breeding numbers during the last 40 years as verified by all three BBA projects.
House Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common to abundant year-round. Suburbs, shopping centers, farms, lakeside vegetation, and horse barns. Bluebird box monitors are vigilant about preventing House Sparrows from nesting; unfortunately, homeowners and business owners are often less careful about eliminating crevices, open vents, and gaps that provide nest sites. House Sparrows are aggressive introduced cavity nesters. They are not a protected species.
American Pipit photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March to mid-May; mid-September through mid-December. Manured, plowed, and fallow fields (especially corn); sometimes on mudflats or along muddy lake/pond edges. Mostly in sizeable flocks on open ground; occasionally one or two are heard as flyovers in unexpected locations. Highs of 294 on March 25, 2005, at the University of Maryland Central Farm and 200 on December 15, 1995, in fields along Underwood Road.
House Finch photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common year-round. Although disease reduced their numbers during the last decade, House Finches are still widespread and a frequent feeder bird. Favors conifers in yards; also found at wood edges and in hedgerows. Midwinter Count of February 5,1994, recorded a peak countywide total of 2,272; the number declined to a low of 266 on the February 5, 2005, count. The total has slowly risen to the point that at least 225 were recorded September 27, 2007, at Meadowbrook Park. First record October 18, 1965; first nest record 1977.
Purple Finch photo
Uncommon to fairly common migrant (more in spring); uncommon to fairly common irruptive species in winter. Mostly April, but a few to mid-May (one banded on May 30); mid-September to mid-November. In spring, it may associate with flocks of American Goldfinches in tops of trees, especially tulip trees. Mature deciduous trees, mixed woods; visits sunflower feeders.
Red Crossbill photo
Rare wanderer. Twenty records. May 2-23 (three spring records); Mid-October to early February. Most recent record February 10, 2013. Generally in mature conifers or at nearby feeders.
White-winged Crossbill photo
Rare vagrant. Twenty-one records. November 1 to April 25. One of the two heaviest invasion in recent Howard County history began with two different reports on January 25, 2009 (Hipsley Mill Road/Annapolis Rock Road; Font Hill area). Within a few days, flocks of up to 30 birds were detected feeding on the cones of the Douglas firs in the vicinity of the south entrance of Centennial Park. They were seen intermittently by dozens of birders until April 15. The second major invasion began December 9, 2012, with one at Gateway and six at Centennial Park. From then until mid-February from one to 22 were seen at Font Hill Wetland Park, Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens, Wilde Lake, Race Road wetlands, and a number of other locations. They fed mostly on the cones of landscaped spruces and hemlocks, as well as those of native Virginia pines. A final outlier was spotted April 25, 2013, at Brush Run, East Columbia. Mature conifers or nearby feeders.
Common Redpoll photo
Uncommon to rare in winter, except in invasion years. All records December 7 to April 2. Without question, the heaviest invasion year in recent history was 1994 when January 15-30 generated 13 reports. That year 24 redpolls were recorded on the February 5 Midwinter Count; numerous other reports were received in the January to early April period. Weedy fields, mixed woods, and feeders. Recent records were an adult male at Lake Elkhorn January 26–30, 2015, in weedy areas, and 12 in a snow storm February 21, 2015 at feeders at Timberleigh Way, Woodbine. A few in mid-March at Heatherwood Way, West Friendship.
Pine Siskin photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter except in invasion years. April to late-May; early October through November. Reports sometimes spike in January and February. Three June reports. Flocks of up to 75 birds or more; the all-time high was 258 at multiple feeders at Wynfield Drive, W. Friendship, February 7, 2009. Siskins may associate with American Goldfinches. Weedy areas, brushy edges, conifers; also frequents feeders with nyger thistle or sunflowers pieces.
American Goldfinch photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common to abundant year-round. The official Howard County Bird is found in second-growth, deciduous or mixed wood edges, and suburbs. In late winter and early spring, flocks may be present in box elders and other streamside trees. By summer, males in bright breeding plumage along with olive-green females can be seen along roadsides and in weedy fields eating seeds and collecting thistledown for their nests. Also frequents nyger thistle and sunflower feeders. Their well-crafted, thick-walled nest may remain intact and visible all winter in tall shrubs and saplings.
Evening Grosbeak photo
Formerly uncommon, now rare migrant; rare in winter. April into early May; late October through November. Numbers and locations are unpredictable. Frequents sunflower feeders. Numbers reported for this irruptive species have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years; few now wander this far south. Two reports in early February 2008 were the first since 2002. One of those reports was on the Howard County Midwinter Count, the first on that count since 1991. In contrast, the initial count in l986 recorded 67! A female at a feeder on Cavey Lane (photo) April 25-26, 2011 was the only other recent record until the fall of 2012, when there were five reports from October 22-November 12 (photos for three of the records). The high was 10 on November 12 at a Dorsey Hall feeder. One male was photographed at an Ellicott City area feeder January 31, 2015. A male was seen at Waterford Farm on February 6, 2016.
Lapland Longspur photo
Rare migrant; rare in winter. At least 16 records. November 7 to March 21. Various locations in western Howard County. Fields in vicinity of Old Frederick Road and Underwood Road, and sites along Daisy Road have been productive. High of five January 29, 2011, at edges of snow banks along Underwood Road.
Snow Bunting photo
Rare migrant; rare in winter. Fourteen records. Muddy fallow fields; gravelly shores of Triadelphia Reservoir; open, windswept areas with sparse vegetation. Recorded from October 31 to March 27. Five records in last 10 years. High of 53 on December 4, 1981, at Triadelphia Reservoir.
Ovenbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; fairly common migrant. Mid-April to mid-May; September to late October (one November 6 record). Mature, open deciduous pine or mixed woods with thick leaf layer. Breeding for this ground-nesting species is most successful in extensive forest tracts where it suffers lower predation rates than in small woodlots. High of 30 on May 14, 1994, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Worm-eating Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; late July to mid-September (late date October 4). Extensive, dry, deciduous wooded hillsides, usually with broadleaf evergreen understory. Breeding distribution, primarily along the Patapsco River as well as the Patuxent River/reservoirs, has not changed significantly in the last 30 years. What did change, according to observers covering atlas blocks in both areas, was the increased difficulty of locating the species in what appeared to be prime habitat. High of nine on May 9, 1994, at Daniels, Patapsco Valley State Park.
Orange-crowned Warbler photo (1K)
Extremely uncommon migrant (elusive but regular). Mid-April to mid-May; last 10 days of September to late November (vast majority are fall records). Brushy wood edges, dense undergrowth, extensive weedy patches (especially near water). Mostly at eye level or below. At least one record in each of the last 10 years. Numerous sites including David Force Park, Western Regional Park, Elkhorn Garden Plots, Rockburn Branch Park, Meadowbrook Park, Schooley Mill Park, Blandair Park, and Mt. Pleasant.
Louisiana Waterthrush photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. April; mid-July to August with stragglers into September. The February 16, 2013 bird at Font Hill Wetland Park (photo) was a state early date. Deciduous floodplain forest near rapidly moving sections of rivers; also along hillside streams. Loud song rings out above moving water as bird bobs along muddy edges. Highs of eight on May 4, 2007, in the Sykesville section, and April 12, 2008, at Henryton (both in Patapsco Valley State Park). All major county river valleys.
Northern Waterthrush photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Late April through May (one June 3 record); August through early October (more spring records). Boggy, open areas with scattered shrubs; swampy floodplain forest with standing water. Gwynn Acres Path, Meadowbrook Park, and Lake Elkhorn all have multiple records.
Golden-winged Warbler photo (1K)
Uncommon (increasingly rare) migrant. Late April to mid-May; mid-August to mid-September. Reported in six of last 10 years; single records in four of those years. Open second-growth; wood edges with dense understory; brushy floodplain situations.
Blue-winged Warbler photo (1K) small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to mid-May; August to late September. Brushy meadows; scrubby wood edges; hedgerows. Only a few still breed in the central and eastern parts of the county except in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area-and this population appears precarious. Still present in some areas of the Patapsco and Patuxent River valleys. Highs of six on May 4, 1991, at the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and six on May 8, 1999, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Black-and-white Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant. Early April to mid-May; mid-August to late October (one November record). Breeds in extensive deciduous or mixed forests, floodplain or upland. The most recent atlas confirmed breeding in more Patuxent River Valley blocks than in Patapsco Valley State Park, which had been a major traditional nesting stronghold. It is possible that more widespread and consistent deer hunting in Patuxent River State Park prevented the complete destruction of the shrub layer, thus providing protection for this ground-nesting species. High of 21 on May 9, 2003, at the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, and 17 on May 5, 2008, at Daniels Patapsco Valley State Park.
Prothonotary Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; August to mid-September. Floodplain sections of slow-moving rivers; swamps; lake and reservoir edges. Historically, most of the few breeding records have been in the Patapsco River Valley. The most recent atlas confirmed their continued nesting at several sites in the eastern valley as well as at a new location upstream from Browns Bridge on the Patuxent River.
Tennessee Warbler photo
Uncommon migrant in spring; fairly common in fall. Late April through May (one June record); mid-August to late October; rare in winterr One photographed on 1/1/16 for second Maryland winter record. Both upland and bottomland deciduous and mixed woods; wood edges, and scrub. High of 18 on September 17, 1988, at Big Branch, Triadelphia Reservoir.
Nashville Warbler photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Late April through May (one June 3 and one June 5 record); late August through late October (four November records). Late date: January 5, 2015, Mount Pleasant. Bottomland; deciduous wood edges; open scrubby second-growth; weedy fields.
Connecticut Warbler photo (1K)
Uncommon fall migrant. Early September (one August 20 record) to late October. Elusive, so presumed somewhat more common than records indicate. Thickets; heavily vegetated fields; dense understory of deciduous woods and edges, usually not far from water.
Mourning Warbler photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Second week of May into June; mid-August to mid-October. Not easily detected. Thick undergrowth in deciduous woods; boggy meadows; and wood edges usually not far from water. Reported in nine of the last 10 years..
Kentucky Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; mid-August to late September (one October 2nd record). Extensive, moist, mature deciduous woods; floodplain and upland. Often at eye level or below. Although this species still breeds in the Patapsco, Patuxent, and Middle Patuxent river valleys, the most recent BBA showed a substantial drop since the 80s atlas. At least some of this decline could be blamed on the high deer population, which continues to strip the understory of the woodlands where this ground nester resides. High of 20 on May 13, 1995, at Rockburn Branch Park (where they still breed).
Common Yellowthroat photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common migrant; rare in winter. Mid-April into May; much of September through October (sometimes lingers into November); five December and one January record. Dense undergrowth and heavily vegetated open areas, especially near water. High of 49 on May 14, 1994, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Hooded Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to mid-May; late August through September. Extensive, mature deciduous woods with dense shrub layer. Usually at eye level or below. This low-nesting species has probably suffered from the countywide explosion of the white-tailed deer population, which has destroyed much of the woodland understory. In the 70s BBA, the heaviest nesting concentrations were in the eastern portions of Patapsco Valley State Park, Rockburn Branch Park, areas along Rocky Gorge Reservoir, several portions of the Middle Patuxent River Valley, and sections of Patuxent River State Park. That did not change significantly during the 80s atlas; however, by the completion of the 2000 BBA, the species was increasingly difficult to locate. Although they were found breeding in four locations in Patapsco Valley State Park and in Rockburn Branch Park, they had disappeared from most of the woodlands bordering Rocky Gorge Reservoir and could be found in just one area along the Middle Patuxent River. The population continues to be the healthiest in Patuxent River State Park where deer have been hunted for decades and the understory is still quite dense.
American Redstart photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common to common migrant. Late April to early June; August to mid-October. Floodplain and upland woods; wood edges, scrub. High of 34 on May 8, 1999, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Cape May Warbler photo
Uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; late August to late October (more records in fall). Mature coniferous and deciduous woods and edges. High of 10 on September 20, 2013, at Wynfield Road.
Cerulean Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to mid-May; late July through August (five September records). Frequents canopies of mature floodplain and upland deciduous woods. Still nests in small numbers in Patapsco Valley State Park and Patuxent River State Park. No breeding records from the Middle Patuxent River Valley for more than a decade. High of 10 on May 10, 1997, at Henryton.
Northern Parula photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. Mid-April to mid-May; September to mid-October. Floodplain and upland deciduous woods; wood edges. Highs of 22 on May 10, 2014, in Patuxent River State Park and 21 on May 1, 2007, in the Sykesville section of Patapsco Valley State Park.
Magnolia Warbler photo
Fairly common migrant; rare in winter. Late April through May (three early June records); mid-August through October (one early November record); one December/January feeder record. Wide variety of habitats including upland and floodplain, mature and second-growth, deciduous and coniferous. One of the few warbler species for which there still are annual counts of 10 or more by a single observer. High of 60+ on September 13, 1998, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Bay-breasted Warbler photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Early to late May (a few earlier records); late August to mid-October. Mature deciduous and pine woods; wood edges. High of 30 on May 21, l984, at Highland (birds were feeding on a hatch of winged ants).
Blackburnian Warbler photo (1K)
Uncommon migrant. Late April through May (one early June record); mid-August through early October (three late October records). Mature coniferous and deciduous woods and edges. High of 14 on September 20, 1993, south of Ellicott City.
Yellow Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common to common migrant. Mid-April to late May; late July to mid-September (a few later records). Willows; open, damp, brushy areas; hedgerows; mostly near water. High of 20+ on May 3, 1990, at Centennial Park.
Chestnut-sided Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant spring, fairly common fall. Late April through May; mid-August into October (more records in fall). Upland and floodplain deciduous woods and edges; second-growth. High of 12 on September 6, 1993, at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Blackpoll Warbler photo (1K)
Fairly common migrant. May to early June; late August to late October. Widespread in deciduous and coniferous woods; wood edges. More often heard than seen. High of about 60 on May 21, 2005, at Alpha Ridge Landfill.
Black-throated Blue Warbler photo (1K)
Fairly common migrant. Late April through May (one early April and one early June record); mid-August to late October, a new into late November. Late date: November 15, 2014. Upland and floodplain deciduous or mixed woods with understory; brushy wood edges. Often at eye level. High of 51 on May 8, 1999, at Rockburn Branch Park.
Palm Warbler photo
Fairly common migrant; rare in winter. Mostly April (three March records) to mid-May; September into late November; feeder records in December and February. Both eastern and western subspecies are regular with eastern (yellow) predominant. Low trees or scrub near water, wood edges, weedy fields. Usually at or below eye level. Highs of 70 on October 12, 1998, and 60 on October 10, 2000, both at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Pine Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; fairly common migrant; rare in winter. Early March to late April; mid-September to mid-October (one late November record); fewer than a dozen winter records with at least one in each winter month; occasionally appears at feeders. Extensive mature pine woods; also mixed pine/deciduous woods in migration. As pine plantations adjacent to reservoirs have matured, the number of breeding Pine Warblers has increased. This was reflected in results between the 70s BBA and the 2000 BBA. Big Branch, Patuxent River State Park, and Rockburn Branch Park all have nesting populations.
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler photo
Common to abundant migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-April to mid-May; mid-September into November. Deciduous woods and wood edges; especially abundant near water. Centennial Park and Lake Elkhorn routinely have three-figure spring counts. Highs of 200+ on October 18, 1997, at the University of Maryland Central Farm and 200+ on April 17, 2001, at Lake Elkhorn.
Yellow-throated Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; extremely uncommon migrant. Late March through April; early August to late September. Late date: September 27, 2014. Mature floodplain forest where this species is partial to sycamores for nesting. Stronghold is the Patapsco River Valley where a few nest. Marriottsville, Woodstock, and Henryton have been the most consistent locations during the last 10 years. Reported from Middle Patuxent Environmental Area during the breeding season in 2015.
Prairie Warbler photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to mid-May; late July into early October. Dry scrub with scattered young pines and deciduous saplings. During the last 30 years, nesting Prairie Warblers have almost disappeared from the central and southern parts of the county. Maturing pine stands and housing developments have eliminated a substantial amount of nesting habitat.
Black-throated Green Warbler photo
Fairly common migrant. Late April through May (two early June records); mid-August to late October (three November records). Mature coniferous and deciduous woods and wood edges. High of 29 on September 20, 1993, south of Ellicott City.
Canada Warbler photo
Fairly common migrant. May into early June; mid-August to early October. More easily detected in spring than fall in deciduous or coniferous woods with dense understory; second-growth; often not far from water. Frequently at eye level.
Wilson's Warbler photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. May; late August into October (two November records); three December/January records. Moist wood edges; boggy meadows; willow scrub near water. Local lakes, Meadowbrook Park, and Rockburn Branch Park have multiple records. High of five on May 11, 1996, and four on September 13, 1998, both at Rockburn Branch Park..
Yellow-breasted Chat photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Late April to mid-May; early August to late October (five November records); two January and one February sighting. The change of some scrubby fields to maturing woods as well as the loss of land to housing development has gradually reduced nesting habitat. Overgrown shrubby fields; deciduous thickets; wood edges. Alpha Ridge Park, Centennial Park, Rockburn Branch Park, and Schooley Mill Park still have breeding chats.
Eastern Towhee photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March to late April; mid-September through October. Dense undergrowth of deciduous and coniferous woods; wood edges; hedgerows; brushy tangles. High of 25-30 on April 18, 2004, at Rockburn Branch Park.
American Tree Sparrow photo
Uncommon migrant; uncommon in winter. March (a few may linger to mid-April); late October into December. Weedy fields and wood edges. Highs of 46 on February 2, 2008, at University of Maryland Central Farm, and 40 on February 1, 1997, south of the Middle Patuxent River west of Murray Hill Road. This species has wintered at Centennial Park, Mt. Pleasant, and Schooley Mill Park.
Chipping Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common migrant; uncommon to rare in winter. Early March to late April; October into November. Yards, parks, hedgerows, wood edges. Highs of 150 on October 25, 1998, at the University of Maryland Central Farm and 100+ on October 16, 2000, at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and 100+ on October 21, 2014, at Cavey Lane.
Clay-colored Sparrow photo
Rare fall migrant. Fourteen records. October 5 to November 14. Weedy fields and edges, often in association with Field Sparrows. Schooley Mill Park, Mt. Pleasant, Western Regional Park, Lake Elkhorn, Waterford Farm, and Meadowbrook Park have records.
Field Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March to mid-April; mid-October into late November. Brushy, weedy fields; hedgerows; wood edges. Atlases show this species is gradually disappearing from the most developed parts of the county.
Vesper Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon to rare migrant. Late March to mid-May; September into early November (latest December 23). As county farms dwindle, the few remaining breeding records are reduced to the far western portion of the county. Dry fields and pastures; poorly vegetated sites, and dirt roads. Highs of 15 on May 2, 1959, and 16 on May 16, 1961, both in southern Howard County. Currently, Mount Pleasant, Alpha Ridge Landfill, Bonaparte's Gulls and a few fields in the west are the most consistent locations. In the most recent atlas, a pair nested in one far western block on land slated for development.
Lark Sparrow photo
Rare fall migrant. Three records. A muddy field (which no longer exists) along Elliott Drive on October 12, 1988; Western Regional Park on October 4, 2003 (in a construction area where there was a large unvegetated dirt mound adjacent to streamside weeds); and West Friendship Park on September 21, 2009, in a hedgerow.
Savannah Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mid-March to late May; early September into December. Weedy fields, pastures, sparse-grass areas, fields with low-growing crops. The 2000 atlas was the first in which breeding was confirmed in the county. Nest building was observed at the University of Maryland Central Farm in 2005, while an adult feeding a fledged young was seen at Western Regional Park in 2006 (the last atlas year), for a second confirmation. A third nesting was verified at Alpha Ridge Landfill in 2007. On June 16, three males were observed singing; at the same location on June 30, an agitated bird was observed carrying food. Highs of 350 on October 7, 2002, and 350 on October 12, 1998, both at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Grasshopper Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. April to mid-May; August through October (late date November 7). Extensive grassland; dry, weedy fallow fields; fields with crops. The three atlases have seen a steady decline in breeding sites. Currently, this species is confined almost entirely to the northern and western portions of the county, reflecting the location of most of the remaining farmland. Two on June 29, 2014, at Gateway Business Park were unusual eastern outliers. High of 50-75 on June 9, 2001, at Western Regional Park (in an alfalfa/clover field shortly before development of the park began).
Henslow's Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare migrant. In the 1950s and early 1960s, this species was seen annually in early May, but there have been just three sightings since 1980: one April 28-May 12, 1990, May 9, 2009, and May 11-June 15, 2013. High of eight on May 2, 1959, in southern Howard County.
Le Conte's Sparrow photo
Rare migrant. Three records—two on the same day: October 16, 2010, at the University of Maryland Central Farm (a.m.) and at Waterford Farm on Jennings Chapel Road (p.m.); both birds were seen by multiple observers and photographed. These two 201o were records accepted by MD/DCRC. Third record was October 25, 2012 at Mount Pleasant (photo). Accepted by MD/DCRC.
Nelson's Sparrow photo
Extremely uncommon migrant. April 12 to June 2; September 24 to October 31; (overwhelmingly a fall migrant). First reported October 9-10, 1988, from the University of Maryland Central Farm. That record accepted by MD/DCRC. Reported eight of the last 10 years, with photographs for many. Most records are from the University of Maryland Central Farm; other sites with at least one record are Gateway (1995), Alpha Ridge Landfill (2006, 2009), Western Regional Park (2013), and Mount Pleasant (2014). One of the years in the last decade in which the species was not seen (2002) was a year of drought, which eliminated the wetland habitat in which this species is found. Despite repeated searches, no sightings were recorded in 2008, a year in which there was ample rainfall. All records have been in wet, warm-season grass meadows; in wet, weedy fields; or in long grass adjacent to shallow ponds. The high has been four/five from September 24 to October 11, 2006, at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Fox Sparrow photo
Fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. Mostly mid-February through early April (some late April and one May 10 record); mid-October to early December. Woodlands with heavy undergrowth; wood edges, and dense brushy areas, often not far from water. During migration, small flocks may appear under feeders. High of 100+ on March 21, 1987, at Patuxent River State Park.
Song Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common to abundant migrant; fairly common in winter. March through early April; October into November. Fields, wood edges, hedgerows, yards, damp meadows, stream and pond edges. Highs of 480 on October 22, 1998, and 420 on October 12, 2000, both at Mt. Pleasant; and 402 on October 22, 2000, at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Lincoln's Sparrow photo
Uncommon migrant (predominantly fall); rare in winter. Late April to late May; mid-September to early November; two December and three January records. Easily overlooked in brushy tangles, wood margins, stream and pond edges. High of 20 on October 12, 2000, at Mt. Pleasant.
Swamp Sparrow photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; fairly common migrant (more in fall); uncommon in winter. Late March to late May; mid-September into early November. Wet meadows, marshes, pond and lake edges, damp weedy fields. High of 200 on October 18, 2002, at the University of Maryland Central Farm; four other counts over 100, all in fall. Spring high of 25 on April 17, 1999, at Meadowbrook Park. Nesting was confirmed in the most recent atlas at Race Road, a Coastal Plain location.
White-throated Sparrow photo
Abundant migrant; common in winter; rare in summer. Mid-April to late May; mid-September to mid-November; ten June/July records. Dense undergrowth, brushy wood edges, garden tangles, and brush piles. Frequents feeders. High of 315 on October 25, 2009, at Patapsco Valley State Park shrublands near River Road south of Sykesville. Seven records of 90 or more, all in fall. In 2014, one was seen at Fox Chase July 7 and August 5.
Harris's Sparrow photo
Rare migrant. Four records. Two birds on October 21, 1956, at Elkridge, and two in Allview (south of Columbia) beginning January 23, 1965. One Allview bird was banded and photographed; it was last seen at a feeder April 27; the second was collected and deposited with the USNM. The third record was one bird at the University of Maryland Central Farm October 25-26, 1998 (photo). The fourth appeared March 19, 2009, outside a Gateway Business Park office window; it stayed until May 4, 2009 (photo).
White-crowned Sparrow photo
Uncommon to fairly common migrant; uncommon in winter. April to mid-May; October and November (more in fall). Open areas with scattered shrubs (especially multiflora rose), hedgerows, and wood edges near weedy fields. More in the western part of the county. High of 125 on February 7, 1994, at a farm on Roxbury Road. The first Gambel's subspecies was an adult reported February 2, 2008. It and a first winter bird were seen and photographed February 2-9, 2008, at a silage pit along Florence Road near Shaffers Mill Road in western Howard County. The third was at a feeder on Thurnbrook Drive December 25, 2009. A fourth was photographed at Mount Pleasant October 17–26, 2014
Dark-eyed Junco photo
Abundant migrant; common in winter. April to mid-May (one June 6 record); late September (a few earlier) to mid-November. One unusual record November 24, 2012 to March 2, 2013, at feeders just south of Columbia, west of US29 in Sebrubg; photos. Hedgerows, weedy fields, brushy wood edges, yards, and gardens. Frequents feeders, often in flocks. Highs of 160+ on December 19, 2003, near West Friendship and 150+ on March 17, 2002, at the University of Maryland Central Farm.
Summer Tanager photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon migrant; rare in summer. Recorded in nine of the past 10 years. April 17 to May 28; September 2 to October 6; June and July records. An unusual record of a female at feeders in the Sebring area (south of Columbia/west of US29) from November 24, 2012 to March 2, 2013. Mature deciduous and pine woods. No confirmed nesting, but summer records in the 2000 atlas were a pair (which could not be found again) on June 19, 2005, at Bon Secours Spiritual Center and a singing male on territory July 1-8, 2006, northeast of MD 175 and US 1 (on land that could not be searched). Some years there are three or four records during migration; in others none. Rockburn Branch Park, Daniels and Henryton in Patapsco Valley State Park, and Schooley Mill Park all have multiple sightings.
Scarlet Tanager photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. Late April to mid-May; mid-September to early October. Moist mature deciduous and mixed woods. An unusual orange variant was photographed at Middle Patuxent Environmental Area July 13, 2014. Highs of 20 on May 3, 1958, in southern Howard County, 18 on May 8, 1999, at Rockburn Branch Park, and 18 on May 14, 1994, in southern Howard County.
Northern Cardinal photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Abundant year-round. Widespread in suburbs, field edges, thickets, and brushy wood edges. Frequents feeders.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon to fairly common migrant; rare in summer. Mid-April through May; late August to late October (three November records); two June and three July records. Mature woodlands, wood edges, open second-growth, and suburban areas. Increasingly reported at feeders. High of 15-16 three times in May 6-10 period, usually during extended periods of rain.
Blue Grosbeak photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon migrant. Late April to late May; September to late October. Hedgerows, wood edges, open damp areas with scattered shrubs, and streamside brushy areas. High of 24+ on September 24, 1986, at Centennial Park. Alpha Ridge Park is a consistent breeding location.
Indigo Bunting photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common breeder; common migrant; rare in winter. Mid-April to late May; September to late October; one December and two January records. Weedy fields; second-growth; wood edges; hedgerows; open brushy areas with elevated singing perches. High of 70+ on September 13, 2002, at Mt. Pleasant.
Painted Bunting photo
Rare vagrant. Three records. One record of a bird at a feeder east of Bethany Lane, December 15-24, 2003 (photo). Accepted by MD/DCRC. The second appeared at feeders at the north edge of Savage, present March 11-April 11, 2009. It was seen and photographed by many observers. The third was present at an Elkridge freder an unknown period; last observed 1/19/16, ph. (Species no longer reviewable.)
Dickcissel photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Rare breeder; uncommon migrant; rare in winter. Mostly mid-May through October; scattered winter and early spring records (April is the only month without a record). Two breeding records: 1994 along Folly Quarter Road and 2005 at Alpha Ridge Landfill where there were at least five adults and two nests. One nest fledged young; a second that had contained four eggs was found damaged and deserted. In addition to Alpha Ridge Landfill nestings, most recent BBA had probable nesting in two other western blocks. Most records are from central or western Howard County. Mainly weedy fields and shrubby edges. Appearance is highly unpredictable so it was not surprising that none returned to the landfill site to nest in subsequent years.
Bobolink photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common spring migrant; uncommon in fall; rare in summer. Late April to late May; early August to late October (few after the end of September); four June and one July record. Spring flocks once numbered in the hundreds; most in the last 10 years have been below 100. Highs of 990 on May 8, 1954, in southern Howard County and 300 on May 9, 1987, in a field along Sanner Road. Largest flocks in fields of alfalfa or mustard; also in extensive tall grass with a few nearby shrubs.
Red-winged Blackbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common much of the year; can be fairly common to uncommon in winter except in single-species flocks or flocks of mixed blackbird species, which may number in the multi-thousands. Damp meadows, marshes, fields, open woods, vegetated pond and lake edges.
Eastern Meadowlark photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Uncommon breeder; uncommon most of the year; rare in winter. Outside of the breeding season, meadowlarks generally move in small flocks. Fields; moist tall-grass meadows. Eastern Meadowlarks are a declining species in the county as habitat changes have reduced breeding locations. May Counts as late as 1995 tallied 135; the 2014 May Count total was 12. January 17, 2015, 27 meadowlarks were counted on Alpha Ridge Landfill, the best recent count; in contrast, a year later there were none on 2/6/16.
Yellow-headed Blackbird photo
Rare. Three records. A Vantage Point, West Columbia feeder from January 28 to February 7, 1979 (photo); north of Fulton in a mixed blackbird flock November 9-10, 1985; and at a feeder in southern Howard County on December 12, 1999.
Rusty Blackbird photo
Uncommon migrant; rare in winter. March and April (a few in May); October into early November. Wet woods, especially areas with mud and layers of soggy leaves; shallow standing water; and muddy pond edges. Despite generally declining numbers, there have been noteworthy totals in the last decade. Highs of 150+ on April 17, 2004, at Dorsey Road; 65 on April 10, 1996, at Gwynn Acres Path; and 60 on January 9, 2011, along Florence Road near Shaffersville Road. Gwynn Acres Path, Centennial Park, and Lake Elkhorn have multiple records.
Brewer's Blackbird photo (1K)
Rare. Five records. A feeder in Hopewell, East Columbia from January 19 to February 1, 1985; a feeder on Reservoir Road southwest of Fulton from January 26 to February 11, 1991; a birdbath south of Ellicott City January 17, 1994; a feeder adjacent to Meadowbrook Park, December 23, 2010; and a male and a female in a mixed blackbird flock March 19, 2014, in a field close to the intersection of Daisy Road/Bushy Park Road (Patrick's farm).
Common Grackle photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common to abundant most of the year; mostly uncommon in winter, except locally abundant in large flocks. Fields, wood edges, suburbs; deciduous or coniferous trees (conifers are frequent nest sites). Largest single species flock of ~20,000 was counted over Cavey Lane November 28, 2015.
Brown-headed Cowbird photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Common spring and summer; fairly common in fall; uncommon in winter except in large mixed species flocks of blackbirds. Suburbs, farms, and wood edges; increasingly seen in extensive woodlands.
Orchard Oriole photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant. Late April to late May; mid-July through August (rapidly diminishing numbers after early August). Open deciduous woods along streams and rivers; scattered trees near lakes and ponds; hedgerows.
Baltimore Oriole photo small_atlaslogo (1K)
Fairly common breeder; fairly common migrant; rare to uncommon in winter (at least 15 records). Late April to mid-May; September into early October. Winter of 2006-2007, which was mild until mid-January, provided records of at least two different adult males and one female (all photographed). A male appeared at feeders in Clemens Crossing, West Columbia, December 2012 and stayed into the summer of 2013; it returned the winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-15. Nests in mature deciduous of 2013-2014 and 2014-15. The winter of 2015-16 three appeared almost simultaneously at feeders for varying lengths of time. Nests in mature deciduous trees in the open woods of suburbs, parks, and farms. The State Bird of Maryland is widespread in the county.

HYBRIDS
Brewster's Warbler
Rare migrant. Seventeen records. April 21–May 11 (13 records); August 26; September 6, 10 and 21. Mature woodlands near water; wood edges. Savage and Schooley Mill Park each have two records.
Lawrence's Warbler
Rare migrant. Six records. April 29, May 13, June 11, and September 6, 7, 13. Mature woods near water; wood edges. Pigtail, Schooley Mill Park, Rockburn Branch Park, and Patapsco River west of MD97.

EXTIRPATED OR HISTORICAL
Bachman's Sparrow
Historical record. One record on May 8, 1955, along Murray Hill Road, south of the Middle Patuxent River.
Ruffed Grouse
Extirpated. Species gradually disappeared from the Piedmont in the 1900–1920 period according to Stewart and Robbins in Birds of Maryland 1958, p. 124. Occasional reports in the last 50 years are considered gamefarm-raised birds.
Passenger Pigeon
Extinct. Frank Kirkwood in Birds of Maryland 1895 cites J.R. Ridley, who had a farm 8–10 miles from Ellicott City, as seeing a flock of 50–60 birds of this species on September 17, 1893.
Bewick's Wren
Considered extirpated in Maryland. A breeding record for the county near Cooksville in 1949 was reported in Birds of Maryland, 1958, p. 233. A report mentioned in the first edition of Birding Howard County, Maryland for September 1993 was not accepted by the MD/DCRC.
* This publication uses the convention adopted by the Maryland Highway Department, the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, and others, which eliminates apostrophes in street and place names on road signs (e.g., Browns Bridge).

SITE DIRECTIONS

Look up these placenames by clicking on the link

Centennial Park (or lake at Centennial Park)
Columbia lakes - see Lake Elkhorn, Lake Kittamaqundi, Wilde Lake
Patapsco Valley State Park (PVSP) - see Daniels, Henryton, Marriottsville, Old Frederick, Avalon/Orange Grove, Race Road Wetlands, Woodstock
Woodstock (PVSP)



SPECIES INDEX


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